Beauty · Mother India · When a Picture Leads

Art and Society

This post was re-published in Tamarind Rice, July 2014

For readers’ comments, click HERE for the previous version of this blog.

A post inspired by some late night browsing of old pictures; this time from a visit to Cholamandalan Artists’ Village near Chennai

In today’s world where art has become another peg in the mighty wheel of commercialism and consumerism, we have experts — art critics, museum and gallery wallahs, art dealers and others — who tell us what is “beautiful” art, what is more “valuable” and what is “priceless.” They do this through their selection process and via picking up the art they believe can ‘sell’. In some sense they are not only reading or guessing society’s aesthetic sense; they are also shaping it. 

While there are serious drawbacks to this process of erecting an industry out of and for art, I am wondering if this can be, in some way, seen as an ‘interim’ solution to the perpetual question of how the society supports the arts? If as a society our sensibilities are more consumption-oriented and commercialistic at this point of our collective evolution, our approach to supporting the arts will also be along that line.

How might this change in a future society that has evolved to a higher level of individual and collective consciousness? 

Perhaps some hints of an answer to that can already be seen in the emerging trends of community-level art fairs featuring local artists, artist cooperatives which manage galleries and organize exhibits, and artists’ villages. Certainly there are examples of such ideas being translated in practice in many parts of the world. 

In my neck of the woods we have Cholamandal, an artists’ village near Chennai, which has grown “without any funding or support from the government, quasi-governmental bodies, charitable foundations, art bodies like Lalit Kala Academy or persons apart from the small grant that it is entitled to, like any other art organization in the country.” The village welcomes visitors to enjoy their permanent gallery of paintings, sculptures as well as the display of art and craft work which are available for sale by the artists themselves. Go on, click on their website to know more.

Perhaps this is a sign of things to come. Perhaps change is already happening, societies are evolving, art is evolving, artists as discoverers of Divine through Beauty are evolving, as they are searching and discovering new forms of collective living and working which doesn’t in any way inhibit or limit their individual creativity and work. 

Perhaps I am being too optimistic. But why not?

All photos by yours truly.

For readers’ comments, click HERE for the previous version of this blog.

Response? Reaction? Thought? Question? Criticism? Let me know.

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