Culture is more than a Rabindranath Tagore painting hanging at the NGMA or a black-and-white video flashing in an uptown art festival. Culture is also the time we spend looking at art and talking about it. Without culture, Bangaloreans would probably talk about nothing but traffic and real estate.
Art making is a solitary exercise. Like most artists, I crave an audience and an intelligent response to my art; otherwise making my art seems lonely and pointless. Art critics provide me that intelligent response in addition to informing, educating and drawing audiences into a gallery. And let’s face it, without an audience, I am just a dog howling in the wilderness.
Emerging artists like myself also need the endorsement of an intelligent response and need encouragement from galleries to risk failure by continuously trying new things. I feel lucky to have been handpicked by Sara Arakkal as one of India’s six emerging contemporary artists for their prestigious 14th Annual Show at Galerie Sara Arakkal this month. I was thrilled to read the review of my work by noted art critics in leading dailies including P Sudhakaran. Here’s what he had to say about my recent work –
‘With Dube’s work we experience the colors flooding the canvas in all its beauty and charm, creating a new symmetry and geometry, and at the same time breaking it. Her work presents a bright picture of the emerging art scene in India.’
Why does this art review matter to me when I know that adulation is as poisonous as neglect?
Adam Kirsch in a 2015 NY Times article said that,
“There is something in the act of creation that presses forward into the public realm, whether the artist goes on to seek publicity or not. To write a poem or paint a picture is to translate inner experience into outward form and presence; it is to objectify sensation, and the definition of an object is that it can be passed from hand to hand, its shape fixed for everyone. To want to be an artist without creating such an object is a contradiction in terms. And once the object is created, it wants to be seen, just as a flower or a wave wants to be seen. Art is a form of communication, and communication cannot be totally autonomous, just as there can be no such thing as a private language.”
Art making is a solitary exercise. I’m fortunate that I find a lot of support and praise from my family and can focus on making more work. And, because art is bloody hard work most of the time, this type of an intelligent response from an art critic gives me a definite jump start. Also, I have no bosses to do my quarterly review, give me sandwiched feedback and increase my remuneration every year.
Sweating it out in my studio isn’t that glamorous and does not result in an instant financial reward. I don’t make art because I want to be a superstar, but because I want to spark off and participate in meaningful conversations, wherever I can find them. And these reviews in the press push me to keep doing just that.
All artists aren’t just a bunch of ego-driven people chasing international accolades. I know of much easier ways to make a living. Of course, only a fool goes into the arts for the money; prestige is the bigger draw. And this kind of recognition from a respected gallery and art critic is indeed a matter of prestige. So, Thank you!
Note : The 14th Annual Show at Galerie Sara Arakkal is on till 31st October, 2017 and features 49 artists including myself. Do make a trip!