28.6.13

Art

Halfway through his month-long stay in Bombay, Anubhav Rao, a fresh tweenager intern and I were in the auto late one weeknight heading to Bandra's cheap watering hole, Janta. Among the few things we spoke of on the quick drive, work - his & mine - came up. Anu completes his internship at Crude Area next week. At the time of our conversation, he had been asked to write short descriptions for a few art pieces, since Crude Area sources, curates and sells affordable digital prints by artists from around the world.

Anubhav was confronted with a dead end on the assignment. As articulate and competent he is with words, arty jargon was a first. I began rattling off some areas of focus – colour, treatment, elements, mood – and then a mildly amusing 'texture' he chorused with me.

We meandered to other related and tangential topics through the course of the evening. He is observant, even if not a talker. But the comical one-word chorus set me thinking.

I've known about, and the people behind, CA for barely a few months now. Their hard-to-miss ethos, however, even in a front page ET story from last weekend, is to make art 'accessible'. As author of the Prix Moliere winning play Art suggests, "There's no point… if it isn't accessible, because no one will see it. The greatest… were also accessible."

Art is a limited space & time play about three friends and their perceptions of a really expensive 5' X 4' white painting with some barely perceivable white diagonal lines on it. In the course of the play, their discussion heats to a violent brawl and the three end up questioning the very fabric of their friendship.

Art. A space that is hazy as hell and crazy as can be; chaotic as peak-hour traffic in this city and peaceful as the desert landscapes of the Iceland Pico Iyer describes in his travelogue, Falling Off The Earth. And amid all of those anomalies and harmonies lie the sometimes elitist, sometimes nonsensical, sometimes baroque and sometimes relatable pieces of art. As an increasingly unsurpassable factor in cultures across the globe – especially with pop versions and styles gaining strength of numbers and prominence – art of any kind has become impossible to ignore. But how do you enjoy it? Surely a 14" laptop screen isn't the best way to take it in – however convenient. Most of us can't spare the hours to gape at an original at an art gallery or museum either. In the constant vying for mental space that music, fiction and visuals squabble with on TV, on the internet and of course in our world around, isolation of any one form of aesthetic rendition is not only a ludicrous thought but also a rather narrow approach.

Like meditation, any, however menial, study of aesthetics requires at least one catalyst. It could be a drone or a refrain, a painting to complement what you might be reading.

A few days back, someone shared a recent piece by Stephen Fry on Facebook. The immediate impulse was to click on the link and quickly skim through its contents. Fry quotes one of literature's most famous speeches from Shakespeare's Hamlet:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
But it wasn't half as much fun as I thought it would be. The mind demanded a far heightened experience of the passage from Hamlet's Act 3 Scene 1 that Fry quotes in his piece. There was also an immediate urge to open YouTube and play the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby, because he finishes with a line from the song.

So I went back to the soliloquy from one of Shakespeare's most renowned and depressing tragedies of blind distrust in love. But half way through this altered reading, I caught myself, this is no good. The vocals in the song hampered the absorption of the monologue. How about an instrumental orchestra version then? The last one is not hard to find since several 50-piecers of repute have attempted it to great degrees of success.
Since I tend to read with pauses of moments to look up, a new craving launched. My eyes wanted a view of this painting from my living room (thank you CA!).

Killer Tune by Enkel Dika
I finally played it all out in my head, like the final take of a film reel. So perfect, so harmonious, so ironically peaceful, for Fry's piece was about loneliness.

Now I had an element each to enamour my senses – my vision, hearing, speech, intellect, touch (for it sure gave me goosebumps). If only I had my sister's often-opened copy of the volume to read it from, as the aroma of yellowing paper would make my olfactory go into a tizzy.

Then again, if wishes had wings, I would have few new experiences in art to look forward to. For now, I revel in the sheer possibility of recreating this delight.

2 comments:

Sarina P said...

Holy wow-ness! Dude, that print I want now. NOW.

Priyanca Vaishnav said...

come to bombay. steal it from that raoness