Thursday, April 05, 2007

Profusion of Confusion of Position

Last week we finally got opportunity to show our work to S.P. at his studio in Thane. The studio was located on the 2nd floor of an aging yellow building abutting a narrow vehicular road, narrow enough to reduce vehicular speeds but wide enough to stage different dramas from everyday life, from women buying milk to violent fights. The insides were simple with white tiles (having absolutely no marks of paints) and white washed walls, with a unit having well stacked brushes and paints. Everything neatly arranged almost to the extent that I for sometime imagined that even the colour tubes followed a VIBGYOR sequence. An equally neat library and study cabinet adorned with the past as well as the contemporary on one side and a small kitchen platform on the other side. We started showing our work on the studio floor with every image given its due and discussed patiently in context to our intention, methodology and overall project idea. For the first time we were talking about the ‘FORM’ of the image itself and the position we had to define. Even we haven’t been clear about the nature of images and so we have been constantly referring to them as images and not graphics or paintings or documentation material. If we were to show these images as paintings then the form, balance, skill invested become important. As I was also reading Berger’s Shape of Pocket, I seem to understand what it means…where he explains that horses, lilies, sunflowers, shoes, haystacks as subjects to paint have been commonly painted by number of artist and attempted to ‘map’ the model in its entireness, but it is only those specific horses, lilies, sunflowers, shoes and haystacks that become famous and hold everyone’s attention, where the model and the artist merge as one. Here I think it is not the skill of painting that is stressed but the skill of seeing the model or the object and the rest is rigour. No doubt the ‘CONTEXT’ (What? When? How?) of the art work or anything for that matter does become important, but I feel having been trained to think in a certain way without a context most of us seem to have absolutely no means of assessing anything or being in a position to appreciate an image / text / poetry / play. So whenever we go to any art gallery most of us have a deep urge to understand context of the images and then most images / artists get ‘equaled to’, where except the socio-political context all other layers of beauty often get missed out. In History of Art (I don’t remember the author as there are so many histories of arts written) I remember reading a constant attempt by many artists to get ‘something right’ where what is right is something that is not clearly defined but a number of compositions are tried with different colours that are constantly changed on different sizes, and then a diagonal line or a yellow dab just makes it right. I think it’s similar to the ‘right skew’ concept that most of us architects fetishise or the ‘right proportions’ for that matter. When someone makes a wax sculpture of a Little Ballet Dancer aged 14, I wonder does it really become important to know, Why was it made? Who commissioned it? What is the history of Ballet? Was the girl artist’s friend? Did she start Industrial revolution? In order to appreciate how does she stand (she is made of wax, of recently she was x-rayed to reveal the artists work on her skeleton and his attempts to just make her stand), the surreal scale (of she not being small enough to be looked at as a doll but not even life sized but somewhere cast in an uncomforting scale, where you look at a small girl wearing real ballet costume covered with a layer of wax in a glass cubicle) or her expression with high cheek bones (almost Egyptian) hiding secrets that few have access to. No doubt that she turned even more beautiful as I read more about her and her creator, but I wonder isn’t she beautiful the first time you see her? Does personal liking become the only framework in absence of context, to enjoy a piece of classical music, a painting or a poem?


  1. i know what you mean. it is so difficult to talk about poetry on its own terms, without recourse to the 'explainable'

  2. doesnt this self referential sometimes become a problem?

  3. i am so happy you asked me that. :)
    no i am not into self referential centre of universe nonsense, but i am just thinking aloud, if not context than does self referential stance become the only method of understanding the world around.

  4. never thought of that, honestly...
    but isn't self referential a context in itself? or by talking about context.. are u narrowing it down to certain socio-political stance which often becomes our understanding of context???