MY BEST FRIEND -Painting By Leonid Afremov

As the evening fades away and darkness engulfs the atmosphere, I am here in my solitude wondering how for the first time in my life I have been left totally alone by myself. Finally I have got some time worth introspection and as I submerge deep into the lake of thoughts I wonder how my life has been all these years. Yes, I have lived through ages and will continue to live till the Doom’s Day. Even then I cannot judge my age. You all will be surely thinking that who I am. Well then, I am the immortal canvas and the foolproof of the ongoing battle between an artist and his mind. I am omnipresent, and the mirror of the artist’s psyche. So since today I can finally spare some time for you all, I would like to infer the secret of an artist’s psyche and its ambiguity.

Since ages, painters have used me as a medium of expressing their emotions and feelings. I am the way of their escape from the real world to that of their creativity. On one side I bear the frustation and dejection of an unfamed artist while on the other side I share the enthusiasm of those who are popular ones. I am their collegue both in pain and hilarity. One thing I must tell you, that after being a companion to almost all the artists in the world, I felt that their inspiration and bright idea comes from different sources. The fate of an artist is not decided by his birth or genre. There can be various reasons for a person to embrace art and dwell in its beauty.

The past is foating in my mind and I remember how a long time ago, there was an artist called Raja Ravi Varma. Yes, I am talking about the same person whose biopic “Rang Rasiya” directed by Ketan Mehta drew the attention of critics worldwide after being released. He had spent precious times of his life with me. I was one of the witness of his immense love for painting and his inspirational muse Sugandha. Oh what a talent he was! No one during his era could have dared to model Hindu goddesses as humans, that too bearing the face of a devadasi. No one could understand how he could find the innocence of a goddess in the face of a devadasi who was taught to be irresistible to men. But I did. I understood his feelings every time his stroke touched my being. I could sense and imagine the passion and enthusiasm lingering deep inside his heart which was necessary for an artist. I could feel the beauty of his art each time his delicate fingers rubbed my being. Yes, his life hovered heftily between the sublime and mundane. He was an artist, an entrepreneur, a lover and the very next moment a debauch. He called himself  “a small, selfish, petty artist”. Criticisms from conservatives of the era could not stop him. And finally, he fell into the category of those artists who found their inspiration in women.

Hundreds of years later an artist with the same zeal as Ravi Varma emerged, M. F. Hussain. He was sent into exile for painting nude pictures of Hindu Goddesses. But listen one thing, you homo sapiens, who claim yourselves to be the most intelligent species on earth, you can never understand his vision. He considered art to be pure. I have seen his sorrow when his own country turned its back on him.

There is a second category of artists whose interesting and memorable childhood experiences have a significant role to play. There is another artist called Tracey Emin, who was raped at the age of thirteen and hence all her works though might seem erotic at a glance, actually evoke a sense of pity and emotion. Her appliquéd tent “Everyone I have ever slept with” included the names of all the men she had been involved with. Thus, Emin took her loss, betrayal and channelled it to create art of an entirely new order. Pablo Picasso’s use of the colour blue, which represents gloom and sadness that prevailed in his poor childhood is again evident of this fact.

There is another category of artists who are inspired by silence. In silence one becomes the observer of the world. Indian artists are having a beautiful notion of mingling various styles together. I was lucky enough to have been embraced by a great artist named Jamini Roy. This man was a kind of his own. Initially he was unsuccessful as an artist. To my utter surprise he abandoned me. Months passed by and there was no any trace of him. Suddenly, one afternoon he rushed into the room where I lived, and coloured me brilliantly with thick strokes. I asked him where he had been and he answered, ”I wandered hither and thither in search of odd jobs, but finally I reached at my destination. I found solace at Kalighat temple and that is where I got my inspiration. My dear Canvas now I finally have a style of my own. I will paint with bold strokes “ and he kissed me lovingly. Oh how happy I was ! Happy in my partner’s ecstasy.

Also there were artists like Chittoprasad Bhattacharya, in whose eyes I have seen the hidden cry for being helpless in a society which was destined to be doomed. This noble soul rejected the classicism of the Bengal School of art and its spiritual preoccupation. His collection, “HUNGRY BENGAL”, sketches of Bengal famine while he was on a tour to Midnapore district in West Bengal reflect the misery of the poor wrapped in the shadow of plague and disease.

Painting by M.F.Hussain

Painting by M.F.Hussain

Appliqued tent by Tracey Emin

Appliqued tent by Tracey Emin

Use of blue colour in Pablo Picasso’s paintings

Use of blue colour in Pablo Picasso’s paintings

Painting style Kalighat Pat by Jamini Roy

Painting style Kalighat Pat by Jamini Roy

Painting of Goddess Saraswati as a human by Raja Ravi Varma`

Painting of Goddess Saraswati as a human by Raja Ravi Varma`

Sketch of Hungry Bengal by Chittoprasad Bhattacharya

Sketch of Hungry Bengal by Chittoprasad Bhattacharya

Painting by Rabindranath Tagore

Painting by Rabindranath Tagore

Unlike those artists who have chosen me since their childhood, there was a genius hidden beneath the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, who felt my need at the age of sixty. But, trust me, though worn out by age, his passion and energy was no less than that of a vibrant youth. He dreamt of veneration of old traditions, rural folk, Santhal tribes, and following this he established the great school of art Shantiniketan.

Well these are just few of those great painters who have been able to create a niche in the world of art. There are numerous such artists, fighting their psyche every day, every minute. In me they have grown and in me they die, but the fire to become invincible and the frustration of being unfamed haunt their psyche throughout, and remains unextinguished even after they perish and it haunts me. I have to bear it all alone, stand through all helpless and alone. Thus, the artists have made me a vehicle of escapism, self expression and therapy for their psyche in distress. The psyche of an artist is thus as complicated as is beautiful. What we can do is simply admire and revel in the masterpieces that their unconquerable minds create. Years of experience seem futile whenever I am asked to solve the mystery of artists’ psyche.

The night has disappeared and I can see Aurora, the dawn goddess spreading her rosy hue in the sky, and simultaneously I can also see a distant figure approaching me, I can see the paintbrush in his hands and so my dear human beings, its time to bid farewell, hope to share some more experiences some other day. Au Revoir! 

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