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Monday, August 12, 2013

Greatness gone sour!

Benoy touched the core of the heart of everyone who had assembled at the bhartiya vidya bhawan for the two day course on art history and appreciation the last weekend. The course was also unique as it was attended by a senior cabinet minister Kumari Shailja who was conspicuous by the total absence of the trappings of power that people in her rank have a flair for display. It is rare that one came across a minister who was almost human and humane.

For me the course was also unique in that it was the first class in which my young one sat with me as an equal, for there can never be and should never be differentiation between students.

The course was interspersed with beautiful films produced by Benoy during the course of his travels in search of the Indian art, both in the form of paintings as well as sculptures. That till almost the 5th or 6th century, the art was inspired by love for the divine and all his creations after which it started withering in favor of the sponsors and the rulers was indeed the most powerful thought that emanated from the discourse. The various art forms that were created in the early times, inspired by the divine were true creations of love and therefore every single creation was a masterpiece. This is in stark contrast to the art of the present times that is driven by crass commercial interests and therefore most of it is of the pedestrian variety with only a few clearing the masterpiece criterion.

Benoy dwelt at length on the joy of painting and sculpting in ancient times. There were no portraits and never was the name of artist mentioned on the art form. Portraits and the practice of the artist projecting himself however started around the mugal era and has perpetuated since then. In the present times, the contemporary Indian art as they call it is chiefly inspired by the love of the moolah and the desire to be known, and therein lies the major difference in the quality of the art.

Perhaps it is the same in all fields. A work performed with crass commercial interests or for the sake of self perpetuation is bound to be inferior to one that is inspired by the love and the joy of creation. Be it a teacher imparting education to children or a musician stringing his guitar or even a chief executive of an organization performing his role, a performance inspired by the good of the society and the joy of creation is always far superior even to a one that is toned by the latest technology and/or marred by self serving interests.

What a fall, not only in the field of art is perhaps a striking thought that comes to mind after the course. Another thought that comes to mind is the greatness of the Indian nation in ancient times, a nation so developed economically and spiritually that it defies conventional logic when we look at the present times of absolute depravity and self aggrandizement especially amongst the ruling classes. 

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