Open Page

The born artists

One day, I told my friend that I am an artist. He looked up and said, “Are you kidding? You are 80. You had never gone to any art school I know of. Neither did you have private tuition with an art master.”

He was right but I am also right. Everyone is born an artist. One has to hone inborn artistic skill over many years to become world-class artists like Monet, Beethoven or Raja Ravi Varma.

In his book Einstein 1905: The standard of greatness, James Rigden has made a comment on being an artist and a scientist. He has said to this effect that if Mozart had not lived and composed Die Zauberfoete, the world would have been different because the same music could not have been composed by any other musician. But if Einstein had not lived, the world would be no different since the Theory of Relativity would have been discovered by any other equally great scientist in a later period. The greatest accolade one can ever give to an artist.

For a peep into the artistic spark, be prepared to experiment (a scientist’s tool) with the BMI (Body Mind Intellect) and the external world as laboratories. The ignition of the spark will be spontaneous. Art has a lot to do with people. On the other hand, as Marie Curie has put it, “In science, we are interested in things and not people.”

As a typical South Indian, I love filter coffee. Being an early riser, I have the task, a pleasurable one at that, of preparing coffee decoction. Before filling the pot with the coffee powder, I direct the pinhole bottom at the light and peep into the pot. I see all pinholes full of stars. An artist will love this. The used powder is just not discarded. Some say it is a manure for roses. I do not know. I dry the powder under the sun. As it dries, I spread it in the shape of a face, with eyes, years, nose and mouth, and apply white chalk powder to identify these parts. Lo and behold, it has become a comic character. A small streak of artistic talent. My friend from New York complimented me on this.

I need hot water of tolerable temperature for bathing. A common thing in our everyday life. As I open both hot and cold water taps simultaneously, I look at the formation of bubbles from both ends moving towards each other and coalescing in a beautiful way, different each day. Suddenly I will remember I have to bathe and not keep on musing over the small evanescent artwork.

Over to grand artistic display on the streets during Margazhi, the music season in Chennai. Women who create these wonders have never gone even to high school and known about geometrical figures, especially the polygons or ellipse or hyperbolas. The kolam will span the breadth of the street from one’s doorstep to the opposite. The number of Euclidean or non-Euclidean figures is countless. If a mathematician (a scientist by our definition) attempts to make an algorithm for the kolam, he/she will need a computer and many hours.

Cultural or social events call for an artistic display of flowers, festoons and what not. Not a scientific arrangement. So is the case with interior decoration of art objects or photo galleries. The village carpenter, weaver or blacksmith works more by artistic talent. Every single piece of wood carving is an art object and tough to replicate. The tradition of art and craftmanship is slowly dying because of the onslaught of mass production by machines. Not long ago management used to be called an art. The application of a number of scientific techniques such as queuing theory, psychology and sociology made it a management science to become the subject of higher degrees.

It is next to impossible to retain the innocence of a child. But we can retain the child’s curiosity about external world to light the artistic spark and nurture it.

At the end of the day, I look back at not only the omissions and commissions I have done but also the art I enjoyed in the day.

lakshmibashyam@yahoo.com


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 1:16:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-born-artists/article35251935.ece

Next Story