BENGALURU: Talking art has never been easy. Other than your own tribe, the rest of the world looks at you like you have just revived the apparently extinct Kawishana language. This, of course, after the initial interactions, laced with the customary questions that obviously yield unsatisfactory replies. Most often, it starts off with the simple question, “So, do you take art classes? I am looking for a good class to send my children to, every alternate weekend, when they don’t have their tennis/ math/ music/ personality development/ handwriting classes.”
Once that is met with an unexpected negative reply (how can an artist not take art classes?!), comes the second most common query or rather, statement, of having long nursed this yearning to fill that wall next to the dining room door, with a family portrait. There are, of course, several photographs to choose, from the family albums, you see.
And this one takes the cake “Could you sneak in and out of my apartment, when my spouse is away at work and paint a family portrait on a wall in that unused room as a birthday surprise?” Having crossed many exasperated sighs, one is duly met with the very expression one imagines on the face of an anthropologist, who has just discovered a hitherto unknown species of the human race.
“So then, what do you do?”
“Well, I like to paint my own stuff.”
“You mean, you are busy with your own family albums?”
True. Artists have their own albums tucked away in their heads. Albums filled with their thoughts, their concerns about the world they inhabit — be it socio-economic or political issues or the search for the multiple layers of their being. Albums that spill forth and slowly find their way into whatever they create.
This is the exact moment when the ‘Kawishana language revival look’ makes its appearance.
“Why don’t you step into my studio some day? I would love to show you what I do.” With that parting statement, you know that perhaps, you may never see them again. You don’t fit into the known compartments. Why would they want to step into a world that tickles them with incomprehensible words, visuals that are a struggle to understand and be left with a feeling of utter ignorance? Wisdom cautions them to not indulge in conversations with this subsect of humans, except for the occasional enquiries about health and the weather.
Talking art is never easy. Being an artist, clearly misunderstood. We do not sit under a clear, blue sky, far removed from the chaos of everyday life, creating art. We laugh at the same jokes you do. We cry watching the same, silly sentimental movies too. We have jobs, sometimes. We cook, we clean, we play our family roles and we don’t talk philosophy along with our meals. And no, we do not talk about juxtapositions, narratives, time and space and abstraction to the vegetable vendor. That is purely reserved for our concept notes. So, step into our studios bravely. Let’s laugh over a cuppa.
(Jitha Karthikeyan is an artist and curator, passionate about making art accessible to the larger public)