Saturday, July 18, 2009

Art Associations of the pleasing kind.....

If you really think back to how Art got a Start, it will be very clear that what was mandatory there, was an artist, a medium, some tools, and an inspiration.

Go back to the Stone Age days, Shri Dagdu Flintstone probably saw so much of nature, and various beasts, on his daily forays to provide for his family, that he was terribly impressed and inspired , and immediately got down to carving his observations on the walls of his resident cave. These Cave paintings today tell us a lot about the lifestyle then.

By and by, the world progressed , and went through something like the Ice Age, which was a real test. This was the time , 25,000 years ago, that artists living along the Danube in Austria were inspired to create "Venus of Willendorf", the oldest known statue , 4.5 inches high, depicting a woman of exaggerated physical proportions. It is assumed by scholars, that this was a response to harsh and bleak ice-age conditions that existed then, and the artists created something that indicated their appreciation of fatness and fertility, something whose idea impressed the hell out of them in those dreary days.

By the time weather and other things improved, folks became smarter, and the Egyptians , by 5000 B. C., were into a stable agricultural existence. No one was desperate, and art with disproportional anatomy slowly coalesced into human figures with regular size anatomy, depicting actual day-to-day sizes. The artisans typically worked in groups, whimsical drawings were not encouraged, and you were supposed to be proud of regular , exact, accurate reproductions.

The Greeks, of course learned things like sculpting and quarrying techniques from the Egyptians, and although they had guys excelling in maths and astronomy and sciences, the artistic ones, were obsessed , with what was the "ideal" human body, necessarily an athletic one. They perfected the technique of making statues showing abnormally perfect human figures.

Why did each of these civilizations, emphasize different aspects ?

Its all about a neurological concept call "peak shift "; something that says, that our brain is hard-wired to focus upon parts of objects with pleasing associations. So if you were an artist, the tendency would be to reproduce human figures with parts that mattered the most to you.

Which has me worried .

I am speechless.

this .

Belgian artist Jan Bucquoy, the creator of "Musee du Slip" or underwear museum in Brussels, is someone whose work is rooted in the surrealist movement and inspired by fellow Belgian Rene Magritte, whose famed works include a painting of a pipe with the caption "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe).

(Big Deal. The last time I forgot salt in the veggies and said "there is no salt", NO ONE applauded; in fact some turned around and said, "Typical !".......Hmm)

He feels that artistically displaying underwears of famous people, framed conservatively in this way, indicates his utopian longing for an equal society. And so we have Sarkozy, Belgian King Leopold II, the Belgian finance minister Didier Reynders, Queen Fabiola of Belgium, Margaret Thatcher, and several famous artists , singers and politicians of Belgium, donating their innerwear for this museum.

What boggles the mind, is, what is the inspiration here ?
Is a bunch of boxer shorts framed and displayed , art ?
What does this say of a society that actually gives space to such a museum, and dignitaries who donate "unmentionables" for display ?

Or is it , that, now, since food , shelter and clothing have been achieved, as requirements for the citizenry, these have now changed from being basic needs to entertainment items ? Much like folks born in the lap of luxury,enjoy "slumming it", some summer for entertainment, , as they stay in a place infested with those that don't have enough to live on even otherwise , and then come back to describe the whole thing as "far out" and surreal .....


But I must add, one of my most abiding concerns this day, is the price of vegetables in the market. Its very, very important .

As a pucca vegetarian, I rejoice at seeing fresh veggies crowding the stalls, and then tears threaten to descend as I hear the prices. I have even stopped buying certain veggies. Some vegetables have just disappeared altogether from the market.

So, just in case someone in the year 2120, decides to study food patterns in the early part of the 21st century, in what was then part of North eastern Mumbai, I have created an art piece, which they can "accidentally discover .....

Like the statues with oversize, regular and idealistic bodies.

Like this artist guy from Belgium who is inspired by, for heaven's sake, underwear.

Like the neurological "peak shift" theory says, our human brain is hard-wired to focus upon parts of objects with pleasing associations.

I told you , I like cauliflower, radishes, tomatos, limes, bitter gourds, beets and fenugreek.......


  1. Suranga,

    The 'associations' formed in your brain between art-history, art-theory, 'art-news' and 'Mumbai-life' are amazing and totally hilarious. You make me laugh and think, and laugh again!
    In my case, however, the veggies would be replaced by fish, as the concerns reagrding price and un-buy-ability are similar!

  2. The healthiest foods always cost the most! In America, if it is wholesome and organic,it costs twice the price.

    As for the "new age" art..I guess it is in the eye of the beholder. In this case, I'm closing my eyes;)

  3. Cracked me up !!

    "Big Deal. The last time I forgot salt in the veggies and said "there is no salt", NO ONE applauded; in fact some turned around and said, "Typical !".......Hmm)

    LOL !!

    I wonder if i should start blog posts with such inspiration ! Not that they are art forms...and there i go !!


  4. That was an interesting art history digest !

    I guess if you put a lot of salt in your veggies and said "there is no salt", you might get a reaction :o)

    I personnally enjoy surrealist art.
    Belgium is the land of surrealism and comic books, but Belgian people are very well known for their peculiar sense of humor.

    You might be more attracted by Arcimboldo's "Four Seasons".

    In the end I am not sure art has to do with "pleasing associations", I believe it is more messy and frigthening than what the peak shift theory would like us to believe.

  5. Veggies and the price rise seem of great concern especially for a HR person like me who needs to be ultra sensitive while revising compensation.
    Well writen thought provoking post.

  6. This certainly makes one stop and think. I love your artwork, too. Fresh fruit and vegetables here are expensive. Even the roadside stands that I frequent because I know it is grown locally are becoming very expensive. I will pay a little more to know where it came from but I think we are all going to have to start growing our own food again. I plan to have a garden next year in my backyard.

  7. Anyone would agree- veggies are far superior to underwear!

    If future generations are going to form an opinion of us, based on our art- then I guess it would be better if they discovered your vegetable art. Not underwear! :)

  8. Underwear? Is ART?! Now, I will admit, that I like to buy pretty panties. But ummm, with no intention of hanging them on a line to dry outside much less to put them in a picture frame and call it art! Thanks for the laughs, because I couldn't help myself.

    And truth me told ~ I like your painting!

  9. Vegetables are still cheaper than the Non veg counterparts and better for health. A regression analysis study made by me and by my associates is going on.

  10. LOL !

    These days i cook twice a day :( :( , because my new office doesn't have a canteen ! So i can share the grief of cutting down on green veggies very well !

    As far as the picture is concerned, its very green and lively .... this picture can surely have a great historical significance ... :D :D !

  11. Oh, there is a frightening thought, actually.

    If what we hold most precious, if what moves us, if the rare and the beautiful are inspirational, perhaps the next art movement truly IS what was once commonplace and, well, assumed. One hears of the enforced use of non-seeding vegetables and thinks, "what in the world are they thinking?!"

    And now, I would very much like some cauliflower...


  12. Obsession with one's inner wear?? Is this not the height of perversion or is there more to come? I felt like blasting the Y chromosome group for their obsession with the most intimate and private details of a woman's anatomy and attire. But then I realized that it was not restricted to woman wear alone. Am I ageing faster than I should?

    As for soaring vegetable prices one cannot help shedding tears of self pity. But soon there is going to be a water crisis all over the world and we may not even have time for tears.

  13. Sucharita I have heard of weird things like ropes and stuff displayed hanging under the guise of Art. But this was too much. And I just wondered if all those eminent types were so desperate for publicity of this type.

    Lou I'll join you in closing the eyes. Disgusting chaps.

    Kavi I guess you have to be an artist . Then you can even add sugar to the veggies and say it's salt. And believe me, there will be no snide comments :-)

    Helene I like your suggestion about adding more salt . That would have worked....

    nsiyer I never realized corporate HR types monitored vegetable prices. How nice.

    Judy So true. But planting your own veggies is possible only for those who have land for it. Difficult in a big city.

    Manju I wish the artists thought of the future before wasting time on such stupid exhibitions.....

    AletaThank you. I call it edible art.

    Pradipda What is an regression analysis ?

    Just Another Gurl Thank you. And I must add that I always cook twice a day....:-)

    Pearl Your comment about commonplace stuff becoming art may have raised my hopes. I guess I can now dream about my portrait hanging above the turnips in the market.:-)

    Hip Grandma While the artist might have a perverted sense of art and humour, whats wrong with all these dignitaries hankering to display their innerwear ?

    And I dont think we age faster; we just go around in circles faster...

    And your comment about water is so true. Finally tears will be the only water we see.