Of listening to art!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jun 2017 13:51:24



By Vijay Phanshikar,

The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.- Junot Diaz

WHAT a profound statement! And how simply has Junot Diaz stated it! It has always been the experience -- very great thought has often been stated in simple words!
Raj Liberhan, formerly Chief Executive of the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in New Delhi, and an art thinker, has quoted this  statement at the start of his deep article on the arts, titled ‘Art Is A Life-Changer’, in an anthology that elaborates on various  exhibitions on display at the Visual Arts Gallery at the IHC (‘Voices And  Images’ - Volume One, Edited by Alka Pande, Penguin Enterprise, 2015). Looked at from this point of view, art really can be a  life-changer. For, going by Junot Diaz’s advice, the moment we start listening to the art, our psychological  scenario changes altogether. For, contrary to life’s demand of hurrying about everything, we start taking our own time -- to see, do, absorb, create things. And as we follow the unhurried way of life, finer nuances start donning and decorating our persona, our presence, our presentation.

True, very rarely can art be created in a hurry. And if that does happen, the word ‘hurry’ gets changed to ‘flourish’,
‘spontaneous’, ‘effervescent’, ‘inspired’. In those moments of flourish, spontaneity, effervescence, the speed of creation has little value. For, that time of creation -- howsoever short or howsoever long -- becomes one single moment, and it occurs in a flash, in an inspirational fountain of creative outburst.

This, of course, runs counter to the usual hurry of life. Life pushes you; art consoles you! Life hustles you; art soothes you! Life pulls you apart; art holds you together! Life demands attention almost jealously; art does not mind if you choose to be by yourself for a while!
So, some of the world’s best arts have come in different manners -- sometimes in an inspired quickness and at times at an indolent pace that seems to have found its destination without actually achieving it! Some of the world’s best works of art have come up in utterly bad conditions that have no regard for human dignity, and at times, they have also emerged out of an easy manner and method of opulence in a slow and sure fashion.
But then, what is listening to art, as Junot Diaz says?
Listening to art means listening to one’s own soul and its inaudible whispers.

Listening to art means learning to stay
absolutely still and quiet, so that our inner voice becomes clear and audible. Listening to art also means, wiping out any and every nuisance of the surrounding and waiting for silent nuances of the inner expression to emerge in mind’s space.

Of course, every artist does not fit the bill by Junot Diaz’s definition. There are artists who are extremely cantankerous, extremely edgy, extremely restless, extremely quarrelsome, extremely violent. Then, how does one defend art as a bringer of peace and harmony and happiness? Easy.

For, when the artist is all that -- edgy,  cantankerous, restless, quarrelsome, violent -- he, or she, is only producing art, but may not be living art. That is where the difference can be made out.
For, when the artist is at work, he, or she, can suffer from the pangs of creation -- at times negative too. And when those pangs invade, the person is all tormented, pulled apart in different directions, distorted, disturbed, and even disfigured.

But then, there does come a time in life when life itself becomes jarring, jeering and jading. And when it all becomes too much, the person really starts looking for inner
harmony. And that comes from art.

This realisation takes time to come, of course.

But let us look at the process slightly differently. Slowly, life’s vagaries start pushing the person toward art. For, in seeking solace from life’s hurry, worry and curry, the person starts looking for solace and is quite likely to turn to art. Of course, there could still be people who may resort to filth --
addiction, and vices. But let us keep them out of our thought. Let us talk of those who have the ability and possibility to turn to art.

Their life gets changed in a moment.
And, when such a moment comes, let us assume that he, or she, has listened to art!