Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Art & The Artist

For whom does the artist work? For the sake of art? For the sake of admirers? Or for the sake of life?

In our youth, on one hand; we already have some experience of life, and on the other; still lot of curiosity is left to see more. Out of this clash, of experience and curiosity, an artist is borne - in all of us! Many of us are ignorant of it, some of us are skeptical about it, some of us are evasive about it, some of us are just aware of it, some of us are proud of it, and a few are arrogant about it. This arrogance is borne out of brilliance and knowledge of that brilliance. Recently I was reading famous Gujarati play, “Kahe Koyal Shor Machaye Re!” (Why does cuckoo create noise?), written by one of the finest playwrights, Mr. Labhshankar Thaker. The preface to the play is as enjoyable as the play itself. He writes about his concept of ‘drama’. It implies from what he writes that a playwright doesn’t bother about real, surreal and neo-real. All he does is to have fun, through creation of characters. He refers to famous Austrian playwright Peter Handke. Peter Handke wrote a play called ‘Self-Accusation’. In that play the stage is empty. The auditorium and the stage are however illuminated throughout. The curtain is not used at any point of time, not even at the end of the play. This is a drama, an ‘obra de teatro’, but there are no characters. From two speakers alternatively we hear male and female voices. Theatre is an audio-visual art form. But Handke creates his world only through audio. Isn’t this is clear defiance of the expectation of audience? An average theatre spectator would not accept this as drama. But Thaker says, if some stupid/stubborn/critic, says this is not a ‘play’ than hell with him. Handke wrote another play called ‘My foot my tutor’. It has two characters, but entire play is silent. Samued Beckett’s ‘Act Without Words’ is also a ‘speechless’ drama. Interestingly (and quite fittingly), Handke’s first play was titled “Offending the Audience”. In this play actors insult the audience, and later praise them for their performance.

One such example of arrogance mixed with brilliance was Andy Kaufman. I had never heard of him, until I saw the biopic about his life, “Man on the Moon”, where Jim Carrey plays Andy Kaufman. Andy was an American entertainer famous for anti-humour. His forte was to shock the audience. Be it faking death of an old lady on the stage, fake imitations, fake personality (as Tony Clifton) or be it fake wrestling with a real wrestler, he was always a step ahead of his audience. He irritated the audience so much that they had no option but to like him. The movie is one of the best I have ever seen. One must watch this movie for two reasons. First, To see how big an actor Jim Carrey is. It is a pity that such a talented actor has still only one oscar nominations to his credit. Second, the movie depicts how difficult it is to create fun. How painful is the process of making people laugh? How evils of commercialization have spoilt innocent joy of artists.

Andy Kaufman was an artist, who knew his brilliance and was arrogant about that. However, Andy Kaufman also suffered a lot because he was never understood. He was always forced to do things that he wouldn’t himself enjoy. When he himself tried to have fun, he was denied and rejected. An artist believes in his/her art and wants to enjoy his creations. When we see that an artist is arrogant with his audience, we should double-check our perception, may be we don’t understand him. May be he wants to show us something else and we are forcing him to show us what we have already seen!
(Images : Top-Left: Peter Handke; Top-Right: Jim Carrey; Center Left: Andy Kaufman


Sarit said...

I suppose the artist works for himself first... that's how I go about it.
What matters most is the self-satisfaction that one gets from art - how others feel about it is secondary, though it definitely feels good when others appreciate it.

Btw are you studying in Barcelona?

Sarit said...

ESADE or IESE? , by any chance?

Bhuvan Pathak said...

I feel that an artist always works for its own. That’s why, he always remains within himself”. I have realized these things while writing poems. An individual does not remain in himself. Famous example is of Rabindranath Tagore. It is said that most of his creations were fruited during his weeping. He used to isolate himself from rest of the world, and that’s how we have a World famous “Geetanjali”.
To be an artist, symbolizes the approach of an individual for his life. It is zeal and passion of an individual to see the life and depict it by different angles. This is due to you inherited characteristics form your ancestors and the environment in which you have been brought up which has nurtured an artist.
I really appreciate this angle of the life and versatility. I can see very well – the future’s successful person at National and International Level. To quote a few, Dr. Homi Bhabha was a great painter, Dr. Sarabhai was a great poet and Late Dr. Raja Rammanna (Ex. Director- DAE, Govt. of India) was a great Piano Player and above all our beloved Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam- is a great Poet cum writer. I am sure one day your this characteristic is going to lead you to these personalities height.