Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Truth of Drawing

Drawings Hands by Escher ( For representational purposes only)
Why do artists do drawings? Nobody generally asks why a singer hums or why a writer pens down his ideas in a notebook. But artists are often asked why they draw. Very few artists in the contemporary Indian art scene have taken courage to answer this question for the simple reason that a majority of them just do not draw. They create gallery ready paintings and sculptures and the act of drawing is reduced to the level of blueprints that could be depended upon for transporting the ideas into a grander scale. Many an artist thinks that drawings are unfinished artistic expressions and lesser fields of artistic prowess therefore they have to be treated as secondary exercises. This misconception is largely a recent one in the history of art because irrespective of the geographical locations, most of the artists in the world today consider themselves as ‘producers’ of art objects than creators of ‘art’ itself. The gallery readiness and the project based approach to art in fact removes drawings as a veritable hindrance than a demonstrable artistic flourish. Yes, we do have artists who treat drawing as ‘finished’ art objects so that they could also be treated as gallery ready objects. I have seen artists specially creating ‘drawing books’ and ‘sketch pads’ to be exhibited in their forthcoming shows which I find germinating out of the guilt factor in them induced by nothing other than art historical familiarity that they have cursorily gained in due course of their formative years. 
A singer hums because she/he takes it as a part of their existence that finds expression in various ways of auditory renderings. When she/ he hums what they create is a sonic space within the gross space of their physical existence, where they could trace the joyous movement of their happy soul without realising that she/he is in that pursuit. She/he does not intend it to be ‘performed’ for an audience nor does she/he do it for recording for the posterity. Hence, the humming of a singer exists as a part of a whole repertoire of their singing career contributing subtly to the finesse that they achieve towards the matured phase of their creative career. Now think about a scenario that someone decides to make a home video of their singing/humming and stores it somewhere without their knowing about it. At some point these recordings become very valuable evidences of their genius and its manifestations in the world of music. So is the case of a writer who pens down his/her ideas, many of which perhaps would never find the light of the day. But they constitute the literary flourish of the writer in various forms and in turn they become a secret inventory for the writer to make private visits to it often or once in a while in order to enjoy the variety of it with the same innocence and wonder of a child who looks into the grandmother’s chest full of souvenirs, memorabilia, collections of artefacts, clothes, ornaments and above all fragrances. An artist who draws like a singer and a writer would enjoy the same happiness, which had been enjoyed by the masters in the world art history including those from India. 

Drawings are the silent paths of the soul of the artist that traces his excessive and uninhibited joy and responses to events, phenomena, people, beings and objects in the nature. When an artist draws s/he immerses herself in the very act of getting one with the form, shape, light and shadow of the above mentioned elements. While a painting or a sculpture has conscious deliberations of the artist for the desired effects, drawing happens naturally for it does not desire anything as a final product. If meditation is done to merge with the higher element of the nature, which we call the higher soul, god etc., drawing is a similar thing where the artist sheds his separated-ness and becomes one with the act of drawing, therefore the object that becomes the model for the drawing. There could be hundreds of people watching him drawing but he feels so lonely in the wilderness with his model right there in front of him. The act of drawing then becomes a prayer, as Tagore would put it, where the drawing and the artist become one and the same. That’s why great artists keep looking at their drawings as if they were something very fresh. It becomes at once a point of departure as well as a point of inspiration. Attainment of such unity of time and space within the ambit of creativity needs tremendous amount of discipline at the same time an innate sense of contentment. That means, the product of such meditative act is not treated as a product of contemplation for others so immediately. It could wait, may be it could be ‘found out’ or even with sufficient time gap between the drawing and its public viewing one could develop a sense of detachment with it. With this attitude when the drawings are seen or shown by people, the reception of it becomes fresh and above all, curious. The drawings, seen with the difference of time become tell tale evidences of the artistic mind, personality and his/her truth. And if he or she is insincere, mind you, the drawings would tell that also to the world without any shame. Drawing is as mysterious and revealing at the same time as the visible lines on the palms and the invisible lines on the head.   

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