28 Apr 2009

Art of the matter

Some time ago, at an art event, a viewer whispered audibly that she could not make out what was so artistic about the painting. This in fact happens quite often. Sometimes, when looking at art exhibited in gallery spaces, one wonders whether everything that is presented as a form of art is really art. Thanks to the popularity wave, art has become a commercially viable venture for many. As a result, along with professional artists, self taught and hobby painters, photographers and architects, there are numerous others, from varied professions, whose experimental endeavors get an opportunity to be showcased at art exhibitions. Out of these, while some are brilliant and it is obvious that they have found their true calling in life, there are others that appear confused or mediocre to the extent that it is impossible to make out what the artist intends to convey. And, then there are some that are downright silly, to put it mildly. However, as most exhibitions these days are accompanied by enough hype to impress the general viewer, it can become difficult to look at them objectively. One can only wonder what the fuss is all about.

In fact, very often the intention behind such projects is genuine even if the resultant product fails to reflect that. There are some that lack in technique or craft or creativity or all of these. Sometimes, and fortunately not so often, one feels that the works should never have been allowed to be publicly displayed in the first place.

Artists that are sponsored and promoted by art galleries have at least been through a selection procedure. The bigger and well established galleries are in fact extremely particular who they promote and associate with. It is therefore self sponsored art shows that are suspect, because anyone can easily rent a gallery space and put up an exhibition of their works. This does not mean that every self-taught artist or an occasional painter is lacking in his craft. There are many senior and renowned artists such as MF Husain, Arpana Caur and Sudhir Patwardhan who are self-taught.

Still, it is important for buyers to be able to confidently evaluate the quality of a work and then invest in it. At the same time, it is equally imperative that artists, especially new ones, obtain critical feedback on their works before displaying them in a public space.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

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