May 17, 2012

It’s Art if you can prove it…

Beauty lies in the description of subject not in the eyes of beholder!
We all have seen those classical photorealistic portraits, landscapes and still-life paintings, those precisely chiseled anatomical sculptures as well as those scientifically calculated complex structural building forms and the moment we see it we unanimously conclude that it’s a piece of art. We visualize, appreciate and interpret those art subjects as it is. Here we are talking about something different.

Let’s talk about art in the context of contemporary abstract and modern art, symbolic sculptures, concept based product designs, landscape and urban design installations and to some extent architecture. Let’s face the biting truth of contemporary art and design, i.e. “Abstractness” in art and design and other creative fields has become an easy escape for majority of artists, designers and likeminded people in the contemporary world due to its low-labor-low-skill-fast-production nature and high perceived intellectual and monetary value. Though there is psychological interpretation and justifications of “abstract art” as well but let’s focus here on the whole gimmick of art and commercialization surrounding art and design industry in the name of abstractness.
Let’s see how it works. Let’s be clear in the beginning that it’s not “Art” which is being sold, it the “Story” which they are buying, story of struggle of that artist and designer, story of making of that art and design work, story behind that abstractness. More the abstractness more the flexibility to weave a convincing story around that art, more the vagueness more they are capable to defending their artwork. So it’s not the art but the descriptive and convincing power of the artists and designers which all matters.

If you are not convinced yet let’s see few examples, suppose you see a particular piece of modern abstract contemporary art or installation which is beyond your perception, and your first reaction is “what’s the point”!! Then someone comes and tells you that this is a master-work of some renowned artist or sculptor or designer and then you unsuccessfully try to derive some meaning out of that art which was greek and meaningless for you a moment back, because you don’t want to challenge the authority of that renowned someone, because you know he or she will tell you a very convincing story to prove the meaning of their art. And they can do it very well, they are expert story tellers. That piece of art might be a genuine feeling and true expression of that artist or designer but there is an equal probability that it might be a story fabricated by that artist or designer or sculptor or others, around that art work to manipulate and convince you of its greatness and one can do that very easily if needed. And why not, if people are willing to spend fortunes to buy stories, let’s tell them stories, that’s what they are doing.

Still not convinced? Do it yourself then. Take a large white canvas or paper and few bottles of acrylic colors; put the canvas horizontally on ground and pour those colors randomly here and there on the canvas, use your creativity, instinct and any or some of the tools at your disposal, your hand, your old toothbrush or comb, kitchen utensils etc., just anything to roughly spread and partially mix those color on the canvas. Your painting is ready, now let’s weave an interesting story behind the painting subject, whatever comes to your mind first just go for it. 10 minutes and you are ready with an abstract masterpiece; rest up to your descriptive skill, now “if you can prove, it’s an Art, if not it’s a crap”. Best part is that you don’t have to be an artist or designer to do that, if you want to do a reality check, put this just emerged master art work in your living room, let people come and describe it for you or alternatively describe a different theme to different guests, just for fun. You will be surprised to see the positive responses; someone might offer you a good price for that as well!!

By- Anoop Jha
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