Sunday, February 13, 2011

Art of/and Understanding

"Modern art is just some colour thrown on a canvas."
"The book is a classic one. I could not follow it."
"These movies are not made for public, who can understand these?"

Pablo Neruda

Certain comments I have encountered in many places!

My doubt is that, is an art form bad or good just because it is some thing that is difficult for you to comprehend? Or is it necessary for a work of art to be simplistic that every one can identify with that, the moment they encounters it?

My opinion is that every work of art needs a certain level of understanding, an effort from the viewers side to appreciate it. For some it may be minimal, like a screwball comedy movie, or a hip hop song. But for some, you need some preperation, some back ground knowledge of the times it was made or on many times, a second effort to appreciate it fully, like a novel of Kafka, or a piece of classical music. Many people are very allergic to give an exercise to their brain and when they comes up on something for which a minimal cerebral effort is required they lap it up.

I was reading Neruda some times back. I am not much into poetry, but this one was fascinating, though a bit tough to visualize the imagery used. Then I happened to read his biography and was amazed to know that the laymen of his country Chile, took these anti capitalist anthems to heart because the images in the poetry was taken from their day to day life and Pablo Neruda worked among them. So it is not a universal law that such art form, intellectual, if I can say so, has a very less patronship. With strategical marketing the appreciation level of public can be raised.

Abstract art
Another of my doubt is whether art should mimic life? Like is it necessary for a picture or a verse to show reality as it is, or even it should give a meaning? Like an instrumental music is not natural and if vocals are not added to it, it never emulates a meaning. But it is an art form. Like wise is it necessary that a pattern on a canvas to give a meaning to spectator? Or can I just appreciate it for the mix of colurs or the intricate design it shows. Or even a collection of words that does not make any sense, but feels good to hear... ?

If my knowledge is correct, abstract art borders on these concepts. I think it was Burgess who said that if he is writing about a Bengal tiger, what is wrong if it has five legs or talks, after all it is a figment of his imagination...


  1. A scientific study recently states that the brain prefers simpler notes in music...hence can blame it on the grey cells that are too lazy to process...
    having said that...I find the art commenters who find entire philosophies in abstract hard to digest...

  2. Art is expression... one can not bind it. Yet if one is selling it then commercial aspects have to be kept in mind...Great read, Harish.

  3. Harish,

    Very 'artistic' post. Haha.

    On a serious note, every individual is different...and hence everyone likes or appreciates a different form of art. That is why Art is called Art. Science on the other hand is very objective and provide same conclusion for everyone. My two cents.....

  4. your point is correct. how can an art form be labelled as a classic purely motivated by it incomprehensibility?

  5. Art of understanding is as equal as art of living...

  6. the questions u just raised will take a lifetime to be answered
    ur lifetime
    but i m glad u hav a level of understanding(which is rare)to even question such
    nice post
    reminded me of my college days wen i used to stay amazed over purpose of art & creativity