Art News & Views

An Evening of Interaction

   by Nanak Ganguly

The interactive session between noted art historians, critics, painters and The Young India' members of the CII - honchos of the corporate world like Harsh Khemka, Uddhav Kejriwal, Vikash Jain, Saket Agarwal and others were memorable at Aakriti Art Gallery on November 12. The chapter chair of CII- Young India, Kolkata Shaurya Veer Himatsingka presided. The discussion centered on various issues related to art practice and art market. The aim of the session was to create a wider base of collectors and the collecting. In the last few years the professional arts decline when the patron-practitioner balance is radically interfered with or when gross commercialism eliminates the pleasure of practice maintained art historian Soumik Nandy Majumdar. “Artists think in terms of professional viewers and non-professional viewers today adding a new term to our consciousness….It drive the practitioners into other professional spaces.”

In Bengal we have a large cultural panorama; which includes a great variety of art practice, both professional and non-professional”. There is broad or inter-related presence of these; though, through the years, this presence is dwindling especially that of household and non-professional that are closely tied to a way of life or value system. Sadly, there is no clay-worker in Bengal at present who knows the techniques of its glorious terra-cotta reliefs that embellished our village shrines only a few generations ago.

Today art's importance is that it creates money. It is not clear that money creates art, however much it may "patronize" it. Art's value is guaranteed by money, which doesn't mean that without money it has no value, but that money value overrides art value while appearing to confer it and Shoma Bhattacharya asked the audience to look at it the other way. Pranabranjan Ray, noted critic who had chaired the session said both art and criticism have been defeated by money, even though money gives art critical cachet, thus validating it as art. Even more insidiously, money has become more existentially meaningful than art. Someone just said the other day ruefully, we don't have art movements anymore. We have market movements. There is sense of gloom in the present meltdown allover. We should understand the irrational exuberance of the contemporary art market during the economic boom was about the breeding of money, not the fertility of art. So we shouldn't really be saddened by this recent phenomenon for whom the choice to make art a vocation years back. Fortunately, we still have an art culture in Bengal which has many strands that reinforce each other. In fact the commercially precious works of art have become the organ grinder's monkeys of money. And this could help to educate the new generation of artistes and artisans. What should concern us the most is human refinement not export earnings.

A voice from the audience quipped 'Money supposedly has no value in itself, that is, it is valuable for what one can exchange it for, but I will suggest the surge of art buying is money's parthenogenetic way of saying that it is valuable in itself, indeed, value distilled to purity, the quintessence of value in capitalist society.'

Anuradha Ghosh in her presentation said “Aesthetics' cognitive, emotional and moral value -- its value for the dialectical varieties of critical consciousness -- has been subsumed by the value of money. Art has never been independent of money, but now it has become a dependency of money. The market only increases the generative value and staying power of money- the power of money to breed money, to fertilize itself-not the value and staying power of art.” She turned the event literal by quoting from Browning's poems whereas art consultant Anil Casyab gave a profound overview of market trends in the last one decade.

In these circumstances the least we can do is to visually record the whole heritage, collect object specimens of the best kind, document methods of fabrication and use and house these objects and data in museums and archives region to region, specialty to specialty. These can recreate for the interested a picture of various art forms, and educate them to value them. Do we really have museums and archives of this kind in the various regions where the specialist or non-specialist can get a dependable picture of our heritage? I am afraid not.




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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.