Friday, July 29, 2011

the 'Art' of Minting Money

I used to get very ecstatic in my earlier days in Art, whenever a picture or mention of me or my work appeared in the media. More often, these miniscule press releases by gallery marketing guys seemed like they were designed to inflate my ego than to generate exposure for the Art. Nobody in town would know such any article had been published until my family's viral marketing skills came to rescue. One telephone call to my family in Bhusawal ensured that neither me, my show or the published media release remained obscure anymore. I was innocent to the ways of the world then...

People who read the appreciation were rarely interested in Art. Not unusually, most of them would begin mentally counting the gold coins I was supposed be minting from my shows. Even now, they cannot believe when I tell them about the test of resilience I'm going through while establishing my dream sculpture studio. Modern Art has developed this reputation of affluence, as most commoners equate it categorically with M.F.Hussain and his sales worth crores. What many won't care to investigate is that Hussain Saab reached where he was, after decades of constant devotion and dedication to Art. Today, bored housewives and movie-stars turn to painting as an alternative money-making avenue... and expect their 6-month training-cum-practice to generate big money. As a professional stream, Art has this glamourous quality about it - everyone involved gets bathed in glory. 

It may be surprising then to observe, that in comparison to BSc, BCom or Engineering colleges, Fine Art institutions across India are very few in number. If the field continues to be attached with glamour and wealth, people should have been tempted to direct their pupils towards Art. Then why this irony? If one takes a round of Fine Art colleges around Mumbai, there are very, very few students admitted on basis of a genuine taste for Art. A majority comprises those who were either rejected by other professions due to a comparatively low HSc score.... or because they were plainly good for nothing, in general. Look at their term-work submissions for the first year... there are many amongst you who would draw and sketch better than that, sitting right in your living rooms, and without extra coaching. Agree? Then why are You not into Arts?

While it is good that people with artistic skills enter varied professions.... it is not a very encouraging sign that parents and students should treat Fine Arts as a secondary career option. It seems at times that a section of India fears wealth, another section fears free-thought and yet another fears struggle... all three of which are synonymous with Art. And well, what else could we expect with extremely opposite polarities of graduates being churned out of Fine Art colleges, year after year. The ones with dedicated effort and will-power, sustain and become famous - they're the ones who go on to create their crores. However, the larger pedigree of students who entered Art expecting a freedom from 'studies', are betrayed by their own fallacies and are then found drowning their decades of youth in alcohol later. It is their failure that fuels the 'struggling artist' myth as a generalized trend. Truth is that these people would have wasted their lives in any other field. There is no substitute for devoted work. Art is serious business.


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