Wednesday, 2 June 2010

When to stop!

When do you know that a work of art is complete? Many times I see works at a point in my friends and colleagues studio's and know it to be a finished work; only to later find that it has been pulled into directions where it's magic has been forsaken at the expense of over working an image or an idea.

I recently visited K.G Subramanyan and was held enraptured by a bunch of photographs that he showed me of his re-done black and white mural at Shantineketan. Stunningly beautiful and perfect! Perfect because this master knows exactly how to play with the elements of art and understands so exquisitely the language that he employs. No extra tamasha's of any sort from this artist. What you get is a crispness of articulation that is striking in its vigour; and where the forms that make the subject do not get over indulged in from either sentimentality or a desire to insist upon a narrative that dominates. He is the ultimate conjurer!

He was my teacher in an oblique way. Pestered by me to view my work as a student, he finally gave in and would silently view my drawing each Saturday when I was a fourth year student. Two piles would form : one that was stacked up with many drawing and the other (if luck prevailed) would have a handful put together. The big stack were the trashed ones.

It was from silent lessons like these that over the years the discipline that makes for assessing ones own work, took root. These lessons often defy verbal description. I can perhaps tell you that I instinctively know when a work is finished. But in truth it is something much more complicated and intrinsic to these lessons which taught us from practice, and from finding personal meaning from the dictates of a classroom forum.

Too often influence overplays openness. There is a difference between these two things. Interaction and discourse ideally provides a wider space within which we place our ideas to be examined. However when we act upon what another says because it holds conviction in that moment for us, we may run the risk of avoiding the process of comprehending why we arrive at such a conclusion.

I love collective studios and informal meetings with artist friends because they provide easy and uncluttered ways of involving others into your world of work that are informal and casual. It is these casual interludes that can hold so much potential for lessons of learning.

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