Monday, 14 January 2008

Abstract existential minimalism or aaarrrrrgh !!!

A very hectic week with people shrugging off their holiday mood and returning to work.I had lots to do and the weather too was lousy (nothing new there eh?). So I did what I do the best. Doze in office....

Saturday, the weather was sunny for a change and by the time I realised that its sunny, it was early afternoon (getting up at 11 doesn't help though). But we decided to make the most of the day (or what remained of it) and ventured out.

First was the St Paul's cathedral , which is an Anglican cathedral on Ludgate Hill, in the City of London, England and the seat of the Bishop of London.
Its was constructed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century, when the old St.Paul's was destroyed in the great fire of 1666.

Its a magnificent structure with huge inner dome and another even bigger outer dome, which encompasses the inner one. Though the interior is not overly decorated, it has some fine marble pictures and the dome is painted in a mono chromatic style.

Another interesting feature is the whispering gallery on the inner dome, which is similar to the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur. But I felt that the Gol Gumbaz has more pronounced whispering effects than here. Another thing which became apparent to me was the crowd. Whereas crowd at Bijapur had turned the whispering gallery in to a huge echo chamber(we don't believe in subtlety, do we?)and were quite happy to hear the echo of their shout rather than enjoy the engineering marvel by whispering to the walls and hearing it clearly at the other end.The crowd here was quiet and was doing what they were supposed to do.
We then hiked up to the outer dome (also called golden gallery). It offers a great view of the city.Though the view from the top is quite good with all the major land marks of London visible, I did not find the symmetrical beauty of Paris which I found from the top of Eiffel tower or the old world charm of Rome from atop St.Peter's basilica. Here it was just high rise buildings all around.

Just when I was thinking that people can behave rationally and there is hope for mankind, I saw the graffiti and scratchings on the walls of the dome. Its same all over the world. What makes people to scratch/paint/write their names on the walls of the famous buildings?. How would they feel if every person who meets them scratches/writes their name on their skins.

Next we crossed Thames on the millennium foot bridge and set our foot in to Tate Modern, which is Britain's national museum of international modern art. Modern art is an acquired taste and I thought its high time since I acquired some of it.

As we entered, the ground floor, I saw a huge crack running the entire length of the floor. Before I could think of a earthquake which would have caused this (In India I would have assumed that the building was constructed by a Government contractors, who have pioneered in the science of replacing cement with just sand), I was informed that its a art piece. The artist constructed the crack as art (If that was art, then our roads and municipal buildings are littered with masterpieces). Well that set the tone for the things to come.

There are various modern art forms are on display.Abstraction, expressionism and abstract expressionism,Poetry and Dream,Idea and Object, minimalism, conceptual art and constructivism,Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism and Pop Art.

Photography is strictly prohibited inside. But I in my constant endeavor to bring the truth to my readers, with considerable risk to my life and limbs managed a sting operation and clicked a few pics, which is displayed here. Remember this, you saw them first here. Hysterical Harangue ---sabse tez.

We entered the first level which housed works of abstract art form and abstract they were. Most of them were boards on which there are some random colours, which according to the painter expressed human anguish, pain etc.But I thought these emotions were not depicted by the painting, but rather felt by the viewer trying to decipher the painting.
Most people stood in front of a painting, striking a pose of deep interest in the art, all the while cursing the idea of his/her partner/friend to visit the museum or making a list of groceries to buy the next day or fantasising about the guy/gal, who stood beside. In short, they had no clue of what they were doing.

There was this room which had huge boards with various shades of maroon painted on them. The description beside the boards claimed them as effective interpretation of existentialism (no..I could not understand the meaning of the sentence, let alone the art). There were a bunch of people standing in front of it and arguing what different shades of maroon meant.I had only one question 'Do they seriously have a life?' . This particular pic of a painting on the left, I don't even know whether I clicked it right way up. Does it make any difference?.......
What can be said of those masterpieces which used motion picture as a medium to express their creativity. There was a video which showed a bunch of semi nude people throwing paint on each other and rolling over each other on the floor. This was highly acclaimed as use of human flesh as art form (note to self: send the cds of Shakeelapadams-those art house hits of the most famous Malayalam movie actress all time- to museum authorities. They would be hailed as contemporary masterpieces.)

There was another video in which a injured soldier is trying to walk, but falling repeatedly. I was always taught not to take pleasure from other's pain. But in modern art that seems not to be the case.

There were host of TV screens which played a video of a man walking, tripping over a dog around a corner and falling. Each screen showed the same video from different angles. If this is high art , then the insane movies of Priyadarshan,David Dhawan, Anees Bazmee deserve a Nobel.

Installation art uses sculptural materials and other media to modify the way we experience a particular space. Confused?, let me simplify. Its just keeping things on the middle of a floor or right in the middle of a path and call that as art. Few examples what I saw were magnesium squares placed on the floor, bunch of tube lights on a wall, worn out wooden pieces on floor which my mum would have gladly used as firewood. All these reminded me of the pipes on road left behind by the workers after a piece of drainage work or trenches dug by one of the departments to lay wires and never closed again. All these best qualify as installation art pieces.

Then there was this painting called 'The Kiss' by the most famous of all the modern artists, Pablo Picasso. The description talked about the passion,the intimacy and the love of the couple in the painting. But after seeing the painting, I am not sure whether I would like to involve in the act of kissing. I had heard about art invoking various emotions in people. But it was the first time when somebody's bile rised aftre seeing a painting....its was mine.Well no offence meant to all Picasso lovers, but his painting was similar to onscreen lip locks of Emraan Hashmi, vulgar and yuck.

Well one set of paintings which is worth mentioning were the one painted by artists from Africa. Using vivid colours, they brought out the various factor affecting the current state of African continent. At least these were straightforward and understandable.

As we moved along the galleries, we came across a wall where many people were gathered. We reached the wall only to see a few wall clamps bolted to the was haphazardly. People around us were making appreciative noise and talking about minimalism and its effects and generally hailing the artist. I was baffled and moved further along, where there was a small notice informing that the painting which was present on this wall has been removed temporarily. The clamps on the wall were holding the painting. It was good to see the face of the people who after making all those glowing remarks read this notice.

Well that sums up modern art for you, whats just a clamp to one, is the height of human creativity to another.

The 7th level has a restaurant and this was the most populated part of the museum. People were thronging the place and having lots of drinks. No wonder, after the assault of 'modern art' in the below floors, even I felt a need for a stiff drink or two.

To sum up, I made a foray in to the confounding land of modern arts. But had to beat a hasty retreat after witnessing a barrage of high intensity art (if you could call that) and now I am permanently scarred for life. If sometime in the future if anyone of you see me staring at a blank wall or a crack on the floor and making noises, don't panic and call the shrink, I am just appreciating art......

No comments: