ravings, rantings and ramblings
A lot happens in the name of art. In fact, a lot is passed off as art, in the name of art! It is one of the very few words in the English lexicon that I feel, is beyond definition. Art is an expression. It is a mix of symmetry or the lack of it, depth, warmth, dimension, symbolism, expression and the use of the medium from oils to eye movement.
One does run the risk of walking on water, when one starts to appreciate art. Precarious, don’t you think? Yet the walk is enjoyable. It is exhilarating and makes one feel distinctly different from the rest. And then, one comes across a piece of art that is so unfathomable that you don’t realise when you have started to fall in the bottomless pit of art. You do not understand it. And you certainly do not relish the feeling of being just like the others.
Before I go on to describe a few art pieces that have kicked me in the guts and watched me fall in slow motion in the bottomless pit, I feel it is necessary to describe the people who come to appreciate art.
More often than not, they are beautiful people. Detect the grudge in there? Good. It’s almost like you could be an art connoisseur if you knew how to appreciate the beauty of night cream. Also, you would notice, they come with a very naturally cultivated eyebrow arch. One that tells you that they have been to numerous art house collections and stared long on the artistic quality of the exhibit. An arch that also acts as a sign of superiority, hence. And probably an ideal candidate for anti-ageing eye cream as well.
One does not also fail to notice, either one piece of mis-matched clothing or some sort of accessorisation that sets them apart as the ‘arty’ people. I have never understood wearing canvas shoes with a natty black suit. Or wearing a bracelet so big that you could pass it off as a portable shield against any ‘art-attack’!
If any lesser mortal wishes to mix in a crowd of connoisseurs like such, they must pause for a moment and reflect on their appearance and body language. Any sign of strange facial hair, passes off as nouveau artistic. Wearing a bracelet or weird socks peeping from shoes or the old classic pony-tail would bear well.
So, I was really excited about going to the Abu Dhabi Art Exhibition at Emirates Palace. It was a huge affair. Part of the exhibition was housed inside the Emirates Palace and the other was hosted by the private beach. Sounded like an evening to remember. My wife got us the passes and we drove to Emirates Palace. The parking lot was enough to give us the insecurity jabs. Imagine driving in a lot where you keep turning your head faster like a tennis match on double speed, looking at the Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Maseratis and Porches parked everywhere. Looking at those, I forgot what I was driving. Oh, I wasnt. In fact we were with a friend who was driving us in his fancy sports car. Disaster averted! Phew!
We walk inside the complex and start staring at the equally complex pieces of art. Heck, the art world has changed a lot. I could see multimedia canvasses! How does one do that? I was obviously losing all composure of a nouveau art connoisseur as I gaped and gawked at the lovely art pieces all across. I managed to hold off drooling. Japanese artists, Korean masters, French gurus – they were all housed there. Composite photographs, optical illusions, Dali-inspired dalliances – it was all there. My eyes were bursting at the corneas looking at so much colour and newness and grandiosity of scale. This was good. Losing my wife and friend in that huge hall was not that alarming. I was intently staring at canvases the size of my drawing room wall. I also realised that when people notice you staring at a work of art, they do not disturb you. They stand back, don’t take any photographs and are very, very genteel. I was beginning to enjoy this world. As I was staring at most pieces and getting the ‘artistic-tempered’ respect from fellow gawkers. This was good!
And then we decided to go to the exhibition by the beach.
Balmy night, lovely breeze, sheers fluttering in the wind, dimly lit pavilions and very well organised. I definitely had my expectations heightened by all that I had seen and experienced. We stepped in to the pavilion, holding onto a small map to avoid getting lost and seeing the same thing over and over.
This section was more like ‘live’ art. Artists sat there displaying their craft or showcasing some rare genius of musicality. There were four disc jockeys who sat in front of two huge screens that ran slow motion footage of the Liwa desert. The DJs were playing the sounds that you get to hear in a desert. Interesting concept. But I acknowledge that it was a little too esoteric. Fours DJs playing the sound of the wind was a little too windy!
Trudging along, we eyed the various exhibits. It was more like exploring an open-air museum of sorts.
And then, I chanced upon what looked like a room without any ceiling where people were sitting quietly. And in the dim light, I could see a woman, dressed in white, lying down on a white stage. Oh great, some sort of dance performance, I said to myself as I plonked myself on one of the stools there. And then I kept looking at the woman who was lying on her back for what seemed liked two eternities together. No movement. No twitches. No sound. Only a weird circular ambient light. The woman was dark. Her dressing, stark. People stumbled into the room and stood around to see what she as up to. But our lady stayed put. I had her feet staring into my face. I was constantly reminding myself that this is art; an expression of the danseuse; there is more to it; I counted her toes; she was not sleeping; she would move soon; say something woman; at least wiggle your little toe! Oh there, she moved a little. And suddenly without any warning, she picked herself up, took her ballerina shoes off and clapped them hard and went back to her position of lying under the stars. I was zapped! I was feeling miniscule in intellect that I could not decipher what this lady was doing. Was she in pain? Or drugged? Sleep deprivation, maybe?
Others who walked in, were either rooted to their stools or too embarrassed to leave. I think the latter must have been the main reason. I was holding on for that myself. While I was slyly looking at others who came into this exhibition area, our lady suddenly raises her arms and claps her shoes over her head (watch out for the dust particles) and then tapped them on the sides of the stage. And again, she went lifeless. One couple was busy whispering into each others’ ears; another was grabbing his drink for dear life, a couple were taking photographs without flash lighting. There were more chances of spotting a tiger than to get this woman to move. She just lay there. Just lay there.
All I can say is that I now know, where the expression ‘bored stiff’ comes from.
Quietly, I got up and exited the room. Suddenly I was acutely aware of the feeling that I want to be in a restaurant where I could gaze at the photographs of food in various layouts. That had a lot of relevant art for me.