On Art, Artists and Consumers

Most pieces of art that intimidate me, I find eventually, are all incredibly personal creations.

Maybe that is why, when consuming them, I feel a genuine sense of trepidation. It has a quality of the unseen. As if it were conceived in the purity of a human mind without validation from anyone else.

Very few people have the opportunity, ability, and strength to bring to form and leave behind works so uncompromised. Somewhere they are alloyed – either through sight, sound or sensibility.

Then what of the many who create? Is not what they do pure? Is purity a necessary element of art? I am not sure. I am not a student of art, aesthetics nor humans. However, I believe, for an idea to endure beyond its immediacy, it has to carry a fundamental truth that remains unchanged or question an ideal that was unchallenged till then, however trivial it may be.

Given the amount of art being created and the limited number of fundamental truths that exist there is a surplus that is most likely flotsam.

A curious mix of patronage and accessibility decides the output of many artists. Accessibility demands knowledge which in turn snatches contextual art away from the realms of those unlucky ones who do not have the time or ability to attain the relevant context.  Patronage implies succor which in turn frees the creator from the need to introduce accessibility to the creation.

When creating then, what does one choose?

Are all creators artists? And more importantly, are all artists creators?

Spinning the argument, can art be decided by who consumes it? If a patron consumes a piece of art but is unaware and unappreciative of its intrinsic value is he a patron? Should consumers of art be able to deduce and connect with the ideating seed of the art?

There seems to be a disconnect between what is conceived, what is created, and what is consumed. To be sure there are elements of artistry in each phase. However, what elevates this triumvirate into the realms of art is the interaction between the three actors.

There should be purity in all three.

There can be creators paid to create, but if the consumer indulges in it for the sheer emotion of the creation, the latter, through that particular experience, elevates the creation to art. Similarly, the process of creation, when birthed and carried out in purity, results in art when tied to that labor. The material output becomes art only when attached to the intent and process of creation.

What can be art to the creator, need not be so to the consumer and the work in question.

It is truly ironic.

It also helps shift the burden of beauty from the piece of art to the process of creation (from the perspective of a creator) and to the act of consuming (if you are a consumer). The material piece, that is incidental. It exists as a remnant of a transaction of artistic sensibility.

Unless both the creator and viewer and the piece are present together, appreciating art involves only part of this holy trio.

This teasing out of art helps me make peace with why commonplace artifacts fleetingly assume artistic proportions before receding to normalcy and vice versa.

It also soothes my guilt at refusing to synonymously use the words artist and creator. Artistry isn’t permanent. Art isn’t permanent. How can an artist be permanent?

But creators seem to be driven by permanence. If driven by accessibility, material wealth, or transactional numerosity, it might be safe to assume that the creator is not an artist in the above-described sense. But what of those who create to endure? To leave behind a legacy? Unfortunately, then the creation process is corrupted with intent. Whichever way we see, art seems to exist beyond these realms of machinations.

In this refusal of art to be contained within this crude three-point perimeter lies its beauty.

When a dancer pirouettes around the enraptured witness, that viewing transmits art. There can be art in the mind of the dancer, there can be art in the eyes of the viewer, there can be art in the science of movement, but there definitely is art in the interaction. Art is a process. An offspring of intent, a deserter of calculations, a deceiver of definition.

Not everybody who creates is an artist. Not all who is an artist creates.

It might be folly to write this last line because, in its simplicity, it has captured all that I was trying to say, rendering all that I wrote above, a blind man’s attempt at locating the keyhole, but I’ll say it.

Beauty, my dears, lies in the eyes of the beholder.

3 thoughts on “On Art, Artists and Consumers

  1. I love the way you’ve written this, Madhu! Each line jumps at you and makes a revelation in one way or the other. It also opens up so many threads to contemplate, discuss, debate and probably create 😀

    If I were left to do, I would earmark the entire piece as a favourite. These particular lines, however, jump at me more than any other: 1. //There can be creators paid to create, but if the consumer indulges in it for the sheer emotion of the creation, the latter, through that particular experience, elevates the creation to art. Similarly, the process of creation, when birthed and carried out in purity, results in art when tied to that labor. The material output becomes art only when attached to the intent and process of creation.// 2. Art is a process. An offspring of intent, a deserter of calculations, a deceiver of definition.//

    With due permission, I am going to share this on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Madhvi! You know, I’m so glad this piece made sense. When writing it I was unsure if I was chasing a dogs tail, and if it made any sense. Of course, please feel free to share. I’d only be thrilled 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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