Literary texts and paintings by Shankar Palshikar, Vasudeo Gaitonde, Prabhakar Barwe, Vasant Wankhede and Prabhakar Kolte

30 Nov 2007

Appreciation, a visual process
Prabhakar Mahadeo Kolte

Certain fundamental factors essentially contribute to the framework of an artistic creation such as the sensitivity of the artist, his attitude towards life, his values and morals, his inspirations and aspirations. All of these contribute to the making of art, which springs from the approach taken by the artist. One could be a simplistic visual expression of the images perceived through nature; the other could be an intellectual perception of the beauty experienced, the expression of which would be in coherence with the traditional pictorial language and yet another approach would be to break through the traditional norms and re-invent a pictorial language based on his internal interpretation on exploring the visual and fundaments of nature. The first two are more or less bound to the outer, apparent form of nature including the human world and the third one attempts at exploring nature’s embedded elements and giving this formless experience a form.

The viewer easily associates himself with the first two kinds of art, understanding its meaning and significance. There are several elements in the visual world that contribute to further clarify this meaning. Forms, symbols and colours have all boldly imprinted their visual significance in a visual dictionary that has been created over time. The viewer relates to this age-old tradition, which assists him in decoding its mystery, but is at a complete loss when he views art works that do not derive from this traditional dictionary. He is unable to relate to the forms and colours that are completely alien to his language of visual perception and thus discards it as a random or undefined art form.

Take for example, a conversation between two strangers of a similar intellectual calibre. In spite of knowing a common language they would have to surpass the need of just conversing to actually know and understand each other. It would lead to a communication of a different sort that transcends language. A similar relation exists between a piece of art and its viewer. A visual communication would form the formal introduction between the two, and in fact is at times the very reason that triggers the viewer to engage in a visual dialogue, which if sustained leads into a deep-rooted amity. These are inevitable stages that must be traversed as they lead into the realm of eternal companionship.
In fact a true connoisseur of art must simply like a lover overcome all limits of religion, language, nationality and embrace the piece of art as his only true love. It is in the cavernous depths of his mind that he must accept her with mingled measures. Only if he successfully achieves this does his presumptuous dictionary collapse. Now, simply vowels and consonants are allowed to remain in his mind along with their original infinite capacity for meaning.

When the piece of art defies all standards, methods, rules and regulations and speaks to the mind independently, only then it reaches its true potential meaning. A viewer might depend on aesthetics but a piece of art never does because it is an embodiment of its own beatific qualities that surpass all aesthetic theories. It is us who impose theory on the piece of art and restrict the process of experiencing it by trying to understand it. However a piece of art neither accepts or protests such theories nor do they limit the expression that simply stands before us, ceaselessly stimulating as a pure vision. It gives up all that it possesses to the viewer and yet remains self-sufficient. Our mind feels nourished in the presence of such an artwork that fill us with an unadulterated joy. When we experience such a balanced awareness of our entire existence, we begin to exist ‘naturally- effortlessly’. Only in this effortlessness can we experience satya (truth), shiva (holiness) and sundarta (beauty) in its pure form. It is only when such an experience is lived through that our being is assured to be in the company of a truly complete piece of art. Anything else is a result of superficial ‘ritualistic’ viewing. There exists no timetable that indicates when-where-how we may come across such an experience. So, all that remains up to us is spending time consistently in the company and solace of pure art. It is truly an enchanting experience to witness our selves’ blossom in a creative and artistic atmosphere.

Under such conditions, our five sense organs no longer remain shortcuts to our mind but become ‘meditative paths’ that are born of our mind. Thus when a piece of art seems ‘ambiguous’, we will not immediately dismiss it but have the sense to question the purity of our own perception. It is this ‘understanding’ that a genuine connoisseur must attempt to achieve.

Therefore, whether the argument is about creating a piece of art or appreciating it, spending time in its companionship is of primary and utmost importance. Only then does the next natural step follow: that of studying the science behind the thought and action that guide us to an effortless co-existence. Once we have been attuned to this process we begin to enjoy the pleasure attained from the appreciation of art, which again is not temporary; this pleasurable experience has its imprint on our minds that leads our psyche to dwell in it forever. It will awaken the art lover in all of us, a true connoisseur of beauty.

If we can successfully adopt this kind of unprejudiced learning through solace-simplicity-salvation not only in schools and colleges but even in our own individual lives, I honestly believe that along with the piece of art, life itself will prove to be substantially more meaningful as well as fulfilling. One will also observe the ingrained beauty in one’s own life and the measures we take to sanctify this beauty by purifying our selves and our surroundings, not in a complex religious manner but in a manner rooted in aesthetic simplicity.