Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eyes Wide Shut

Art is an adventure. It is exploration.

As much of the lowest desires as the highest ideals. As much of vices as virtues. As much within as without.

Art is not for those who are afraid to see. Neither for those who are blind to anything that exists beside themselves.

Art is expression. Of everything human. How can you then deny yourself who you are? Unless you are uncomfortable with who you are…or who you can be…could have been.

It is only when you hate the part of you that Art depicts that you run away from it…the one who fears desire shies away from depictions of desire…the one with a closed mind shies away from depictions of liberalism…the conservative runs away from the radical…the hypocrite from ambivalence.

And yet, that does not change the fact that you are capable of all this and more…the ability to commit the seven sins as also to achieve great things. To deny any of it is to deny being human in completeness. And an incomplete man can seldom create art that is complete in feeling. 

‘…because I have felt these things…my lust, my greed, my hatred…my happiness…’

Art is not for mortals who stand on God’s pedestal and look down. On other mortals. With contempt. For being complete.

Art is not for frogs in the well. And here, I find myself thinking of this essay – On Eye-Opening Art – from Alain De Botton’s Art Of Travel.

Eye Opening Art…

To present only palatable art to the observer is like letting your child eat only potato wafers…he has no taste for anything else. It doesn’t do any good to exclude the unpopular broccoli from his diet. Unfortunately, what’s good for his health is not always pleasant and palatable. You have to teach him to appreciate the food he doesn’t like. And then introduce him to cuisines never tasted.

Expand his horizons.

To present only palatable art to the observer is to malnourish. Wouldn’t you rather present art without Maoist censure and cultivate a more tolerant society than to present mashed potatoes with salt, play it safe and encourage intolerance?

It has always been the adventurers who have charted new course. Not Mr. Play-It-Safe who wouldn’t leave home because the sky looked cloudy. The way Marco Polo chronicled his journey or Columbus told his tale, the way Da Gama spread word of the new coast he conquered, it is in the same way that those of us who have had the opportunity to explore new shores of Art, who have charted new course and conquered new territory in the mind, must educate the rest of us, open their eyes and take them along.

Else you end up with a agoraphobic lot that hyperventilates every time it sees something new and outside of its comfort zone…content to be confined to what it has always known…and marking that as the be all…the end all…and worst of all, looking down on the maverick who challenges its safe existence and seeks adventure.

It is these people that look at the world with eyes wide shut and call themselves the saviours of morality.

May art open their eyes. And their mind.

If it can.

11 Thinkers Pondered:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your post. There is nothing wrong with choosing art as a medium of one's expression, in case some one suggesting that triggered this article. But that is not the only form of expression. One may be perfectly content with who or what they are without having the need to express themselves for the world to know. There is nothing moral or immoral about it.
Writers, social workers, etc. all care about humanity. Most of them have compassion, not contempt. They are not frogs in any well either, just because they dont find the need to make more abstract portrayals of their feelings.
Some people have too many worthwhile things to do (in their opinion) than only expressing to the world about what may/ may not be useful.
Some choose art as a medium, nothing different from choosing any other form of expression.
To me, it sounds like this post is out of anger at an individual. Maybe that particular individual has no other rightful claims on his mind and time, and may deserve this.
It is very well written- the language and metaphors and similes, but very uni-directional and very little logic in its content.

Anupama said...


Thank you so much for your comment...

iamyuva said...

and nature to carry that magic..

but ya.. creative skill will find
schemes and toils, stone, wood and ore
subject or weapon of Its power.
and yes...there is a spirit ranging through
earth, stream, air,
thousand shapes, garbs ever new,
colour, scent, and taste, and sound
energy of Life is found.

Rahul said...

I loved this article. even the first comment is quite thoughtful, however I guess it totally misses the point.
the interpretation the first commenter has probably drawn is that this article wants to say that only valid form of expression is art.
I think art is as much about appreciation as creation or expression, it is equally a medium of expression as it is a medium of appreciation. and from appreciation comes the compassion and innovation. and I think art is much broader term, which includes anything that is beautiful. I guess if this article wants to demean anyone, it is only those who have neither any appreciations for anything other than what they are use to, nor will to expand their horizons and explore the world. not the people who choose to express themselves in other ways than art. a social worker or an engineer who appreciates, is socially as praiseworthy as an artist, for being tolerant and open to ideas.

mentalie said...

i loved your post, anupama. i live in hauz khas village and every other day, when i'm walking home i see a bunch of folks standing around with wine glasses and crash the party to go see what's showing. some exhibits are lovely, some i can't relate to. but they all push me a little. makes my day.

Anonymous said...

Art is a four lettered word!

Anonymous said...

Well this is anonymous no.1 and I was surprised to see the comment above this one..No, I dont indulge in such innuendo.
I agree with rahul.But, the article does lean towards my interpretation of it..If I am wrong, I am gracefully wrong:)

Neena Sharma said...

Liked your blog.

Rahul said...

he he... Anonymous no. 1, you sound like an interesting person. and I agree, your criticism was graceful.

any way, thanks :)

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Sathej said...

Oscar Wilde's preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray is all I can think oh while reading this. 'The books that the world calls bad are those that show the world its own face. 'Wonderfully put, Anupama. Excellently articulated ! Any form of art has its own intrinsic significance..