The other day at a prominent gallery, I came across a painting titled ‘ Shades’. One half of it was sketched in a dark color while the rest was painted a shade lighter. It was priced above 20000 Rs. And I idly wondered -I could have done such a painting too. As I walked ahead, I stumbled upon a beautiful Mysore styled painting of a goddess. The rich colors, deep hues,intricate brush strokes – each detail was depicted to perfection and managed to convey a deep sense of divinity. The gold and silver works on the artwork further accentuated this feeling. I was stunned for a moment and I realized I was standing in front of a masterpiece. This is what I would call ‘true art’ was the feeling I came away with.
However a few days later I had an interesting conversation with a hobby artist- a senior citizen who had been dabbling in art for years. And he changed my perception on art.
Modern Art – a new perception
“Modern art by itself may not invoke any form of awe. It might not inspire you with its beauty,richness or take your breathe away,” he said. “However if it makes you pause,ponder and invokes feelings, then the piece has done its job.” he explained further.
I went back to the gallery and looked at ‘Shades’ again. I noticed a series of dark lines slowly growing a shade lighter , thinner, finally attaining a lighter tone. The painting that I had previously dismissed as a smear job now took on meaning. It was the artist’s way of conveying that each person had a dark side but with effort he could move towards his positive side. Did the artwork inspire me now? You bet, it did!
Modern Art defined:
Just to put things in context, art created during the period 1860-1960s is called Modern art. It does not stick to any boundaries, styles or themes. The art forms during this period tried to break free from the traditional art practices and tried to create something new. The goal was to build something original, to challenge the existing norms, to depict reality as is. Sometimes it made you uncomfortable striking you with questions that had no answers.
Or the visuals may have a deep underlying social and political message. For instance the ‘White on White‘ abstract art form by Malevich ,a Russian painter. The painting was done during the 1918s – one year after the Russian revolution. The abstract talks about hope, freedom, change, the birth of a new society. In a sense it takes you back to the Russian revolution and the society then.
So while the classic pieces like Mona Lisa and the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh can evoke a different sense of emotions, the Modern Art with its abstract paintings, Impressionism etc takes a different voice. So as a lay person it makes sense to see these master pieces in that light and not compare and think- just a painting by a con artist. It might just have a deeper meaning, you never know!
Photo credit- Usha Hariprasad