If it shackles you, binds you, enthralls you, reaches deep within your chest to squeeze your heart – remember that none of it was designed to do what it did, because artists paint to express and not to impress.
We can only paint what we’ve experienced – personally or empathetically – rest all…even when painted or sculpted with exceptional talent, remains a craft. Noted artist, sculptor, and recipient of Padma Shri, Shri Biman Das, spoke to me during my first show and said, “the experience of pain makes an artist.” I agree. I also think that if I had a choice, I’d probably choose not be an artist than to be mauled so badly by Dame Misfortune. This brings in the element of luck (or ill-luck) into the mix. The question that we who aspire to become artists, must ask ourselves is – if pain is the currency then how much of it are we willing to earn, before we can pay for our brushes and chisels to develop a core that’s connected to our heart?
Questions abound. Questions that are never answered. Questions such as: Why art emerges from pain or misfortune? Does it always happen so? I would like to say, “yes,” and yet I won’t, because that affirmation could open a densely packed can of rotting worms a.k.a. questions best left unasked and unanswered.
If you’ve been to any of my shows, you may have seen the Not-for-Sale sticker on “Re…” You probably are among those who asked why I won’t sell it.
Here’s the answer:
I won’t sell “Re…” because I’ve lived through “Re…” and then survived to paint it; and also because I’ve experienced the effect it has on its viewers. When “Re…” is on display in the art-galleries, the viewer is under its influence only until they leave, carrying their unique connection with “Re…” in their hearts. They go, possibly to a warm and happy coffeeshop or restaurant, or even back to their routine, and in time they forget “Re…”
But if it’s bought – it will stay in someone’s house – to torment them each day. They’d look at it and every time find something new – feel something new…until someone else for whom it would just be four canvases with faces, would inherit it – and not feel a thing.
It is isn’t worth it – neither for “Re…” nor for the patron or me.
I’d rather destroy it before I die…but death mostly arrives unannounced, and because I don’t want to part with it while I am alive – I’d probably fail at destroying it. I don’t want to part with it because its core is still attached to my heart. Once in a while, it gives my heart a little tug making it twist in agony. Now, after having lived with “Re…” for more than five years, I can muster a faint smile I look at it and tell myself this is why I called it, “Re…”
And yet, there are things that I’ve done that I had promised myself that i would never do. Pain motivates you to find relief through a mile long range of expressions – so I honestly don’t know if I will be able to keep my promise.
“Re…” found me as its creator. It is the writer of its own destiny. It has a mind of its own. I can only wait and watch.
(Note: Written in response to the question asked by visitors to my show at the Lalit Kala Akademi. “Why Re…is Not for Sale?”)