Art is a word handled carefully by people. If someone says I am an artist, the picture that would instantly come to mind would be that of an amply bearded MF Husain, painting away at his own ease or some abstract representation that would never make sense to you, even if you do a Ph.D. in the subject. Art is that sort of an enigma. When I look at a piece of art, I can’t decide the kind of expression my face should reflect. Should it be awe, ecstasy or disgust? In most of the paintings that I see, I prefer to keep a poker-face and try to avoid the painter at all costs in case he/she asks me for some comments on his/her masterpiece.
I remember when I was in college, I had attended an art exhibition somewhere. Why I remember that is because my friends never forgave me for that day. It was one of those days that we had got off because of a cancelled class and I had suggested a visit to an art gallery as an alternative to the daily movies and malls, that had now become too mundane for our liking.
“Why not an art exhibit?” I suggested.
Most of the group members rolled their eyes, probably thinking, ‘there she goes with her dumb suggestions!’ And yet, since it was the end of the month and none of us had much dough for a movie, we decided to go along. Later they said that they would rather have attended a lecture or even visited Children’s park than spent their time looking at the paintings of partial sceneries or obscure women and men, one couldn’t tell which (I suggested it must be the talent of the artist which made it hard to discern between a man and a woman, which invited a dangerous look from a friend beside me and made me shut up. )
There were two outcomes of that outing:
a) It resulted in a rule that banned us from visiting any more art exhibitions
b) Right after we exited the gallery, my peers started discussing the artworks, making us all double up with laughter. One referred to the questionable painting of a half-man half-woman and commented as follows, “They were trying do a Mona Lisa and ended up with a Mona darling” making the rest of the group burst into guffaws.
“That was really in very bad taste. I am glad the painter didn’t hear us.” I told them but they only laughed harder.
My respect for the connoisseurs of art is quite immense. I feel that its easier to make out a complex math problem but much harder to fathom the interminable depths of an expertly done gouache. Although thinking of gouache and depths makes my head hurt anyway. However, the illiteracy of people like me in the field of art is being exploited to the hilt, I believe. Anyone buys a palette and a couple of paint brushes and in five strokes claims to have created a painting.
We wouldn’t know what it really is: an actual painting or a pastiche or worse, a joke on art.
Sadly, most of the people fall in my category (I like to believe so) and can easily be gulled into buying such-and-such a great art work, not knowing that the so-called artist will be having the last laugh. I don’t know what can be done to curb this blatant mushrooming of ‘art’ and artists everywhere, who claim to be experts and hold exhibitions every now and then.
All I know is that our tastes need to be refined and our aesthetic senses sharpened to discern between a true artwork and a sham. But then what if we develop a sense akin to the fakes and declaim the true pieces? Then God save us from the shit they are serving us in the name of art!