artist on a mend
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Reflections now and then

The worth of talent

Exerpts from a thread I responded to at an internet forum

My point of discussion is not Art in general, but painting and sculpture in particular, and the intervening shades of human endeavor. There is not much wrong with music, or architecture. Even cuisine. These fields, albeit with a few esoteric pretensions still follow an inherent logic. Unlike today's avant garde, or yesterday's 'splotches and patches'.

People, common people whom the pseudo-intellectuals amongst us exclude, have largely turned their backs to the galleries. They have become indifferent. Many of them buy (or used to!) because of power suggestions. Not out of love for a work of art. But that is so convenient, isn't it? Huge empty wall spaces, covered by inconsequential paintings that do not attract us, or evoke feelings, but simply comfort us with a sense of completeness - spatial or intellectual. A 'David' will disturb us, dominate the surrounding space. A casual Matisse will be much less threatening. Some scribes pen eulogies because dealers employ them to do so. Others, probably because they feel important eulogizing less talented 'painters' like themselves. There are a few so deeply prejudiced by a century of opacity in the name of 'art education' that they dare not utter a word of admiration when shown supreme masterpieces like Bouguereau's 'Nymphs et satyr.' Its as if their whole system of self-belief, and what they stand for will crash irrevocably if such emotions are expressed.

Paintings such as these un-nerve these people. It reminds them of their own frustrations and inabilities. And these insecure people seek shelter in the security of a 'brotherhood' (just a figure of speech, ladies, no gender bias involved!). They are superior in number - of course, not everyone amongst us are rocket scientists, and they can devote more time to theorizing, and working the publicity machinery. Its easy to recreate what they do - doesn't take much time or talent (remember that popular gallery-going reaction -"Why, my three year old son can do better!" Well, its true.) So they turn their back, huddle together, exclude most of the rest as 'inelite' and unworthy of modern day art, and weave an art theory around their pitiful 'works' (like say, a maggot-infested carcass!) so as to sanctify their so-called uniqueness.

A person with special abilities is considered a threat in this sea of mediocrity. But the truth is, special people always outlive the ordinary. And it is because of these special ones that life still has a vector. A Commune of equally 'qualified' artists busy slapping each others' back and exalting the novelty and uniqueness of their creations are about as time worthy as mutant forms. They are quickly weeded out through oblivion. Just what is happening to the likes of Pollock, Rothko or DeKooning. Some of the new 'Revivalists' or 'Renewalists' as they would love themselves to be called, may have gone a bit overboard trying to promote a particular kind of art, but they were brave enough to have called a spade a spade, and exposed a lot of falsehood going on in the name of contemporary western art. And a huge section of the silent population is with him, who trust what they feel is good, and chuckle inwardly at pompous scribes performing semantic sodomy in the name of intellectual criticism (and have a morbid fear of milky white nudes!) Perhaps Duchamp(himself a capable painter when he chose to paint) had the greatest sense of humor. He presented these scribe painters with the 'perfect toy' (The Fountain or - the urinal!) to match their collective wit.

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