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Reflections now and then

Great Art - Futile discussions

The more we discuss art, the more we wallow in objectivity. Art is NOT objective, no matter what Whistler used to say. Even his "arrangements" had a subjective bias. The portraiture of his mother had to spring from an emotional recess, even he admitted it. Art is about wonderment, not about dry "intellectual" ruminations. About trusting the heart when we feel good about a particular work. Or when it moves us. Not to be swayed by some social, cultural, or educational presumption. If you like Alma Tadema's stylized sophistications, out with it! Do not suppress your feelings even if Klee is the toast of the season(which, however, he is not!). Or if Tadema really, really makes you puke, and you would prefer a chimp "painting", out with that too! The objection is against hypocrisy, against a pretentious "I like Duchamp's urinal because Ingres is just a copy machine" kind of attitude.

Art is all about what you feel when you first see it, not what you arrive at after analyzing reams of "data". Love at first sight, is that true art then? well not really, but definitely great art is that which never ceases to fill you with wonderment, even after a thousand views. I tried so hard to like Rothko, looked at his patches and Pollock's splotches so many times, yet, other than understanding that these people also had some point of view, I couldnt fall in love. I couldnt hate them either, I simply remained indifferent. Yet when I first experienced the power of Church's "Aurora", or stood before the Taj Mahal, or realised the utter simplicity and dead accuracy of a Pharaoh drawing, the relentless curves of a Khajuraho sculpture, the majesty of Bougeureau's flickering brush on the maid's white skirt, or could smell his nudes' warm skin, I felt infinitesimally small.

I did not feel the need to rationalise why I felt that way. Yet the feeling persists. And that is why, even after so much "discussion", I must say, great art is a subjective experience. Let us not reduce art to theoretical rationalisations...if we must do it, let us restrict those to purely technical matters. And even if one earnestly feels that theory is all that is there to art, I would invite him or her to use a pen and some paper to write it down (in a legible scrawl, of course, otherwise no one would read it, and it would just be a personal statement, an "abstract expression", and then one would need even more theory to prop it up!). For the rest of us, a canvas will do, and we will keep creating works that speak for themselves.


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