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 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 kind of art can be a simplistic visual expression of the images perceived through nature; while another kind can be an intellectual perception of the beauty experienced, the expression of which is in coherence with the traditional pictorial language.

Yet another approach breaks through the traditional norms to re-invent a pictorial language based on an internal interpretation of 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), while the third one attempts to explore nature’s embedded elements - giving the formless experience a form.

The viewer easily associates with the first two kinds of art, understanding their meanings 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 created over time. The viewer relates to this age-old tradition, which assists in decoding the artwork’s mystery, but is at a complete loss while viewing art works that do not derive from this traditional dictionary. He or she is unable to relate to the forms and colours that are completely alien to their 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 will have to surpass the need for mere dialogue to actually know and understand each other. It would lead to a communication of a different sort that transcends language. A similar relationship exists between a piece of art and its viewer. A visual communication would form the formal introduction between the two, which, in fact, is often the very reason that triggers the viewer to engage in a visual dialogue. If this is sustained, it 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 overcome all limits of religion, language and nationality to embrace the piece of art. It is in the cavernous depths of the mind that one must accept art with mingled measures. Only if one successfully achieves this does the presumptuous dictionary collapse. Now, simple vowels and consonants are allowed to remain in the mind along with their original infinite capacity for meaning.

When a piece of art defies all standards, methods, rules and regulations and speaks to the mind independently - it reaches its true potential meaning. A viewer might depend on aesthetics, but a piece of art never does. It is an embodiment of its own beatific qualities that surpass all aesthetic theories. It is us who impose a theory on a piece of art, which restricts the process of experiencing it, by trying to understand it. However, a piece of art neither accepts nor protests against such interventions.

They do not limit the expression that simply stands before us - ceaselessly stimulating 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 joy. When we experience such a balanced awareness of our entire existence, we begin to exist ‘naturally- effortlessly’. Only with this effortlessness we may experience satya (truth), shiva (holiness) and sundarta (beauty) in their pure forms. It is only when such an experience is lived 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. All that remains upto us is spending time consistently in the company and solace of pure art. It is an enchanting experience to witness an inner self evolve 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 will 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 is not temporary. This pleasurable experience leaves its imprint on our minds that leads our psyche to dwell within it.

One may also be led to observe the ingrained beauty in one’s own life. The measures we may take to sanctify this beauty by purifying our selves and our surroundings, must not be in a complex religious manner - but in a manner rooted in aesthetic simplicity.