I am an art idiot and I have never been ashamed of it. I always thought of art as a blank cheque that God gave only to a few. I was angry that I have been slighted and continued to boycott it. I could never see anything in paintings that went for unbelievable amounts of money, Oil, acrylic, pastel or modernist, abstract and naturalistic – they were just one guy’s work. How much worth can there be?
To be honest, my resentment is unfounded. Quite a few of my friends are artists. They are gifted but not rich. Quite a few have given up art and taken up graphic design, packaging design or visualization jobs in ad agencies and IT companies. Thanks to the art mafia or the art entrepreneurs. They hire upcoming artists at fixed salaries and make them work as programmers or construction workers – six days a week, ten hours a day. Their work is sold at premium prices but no one will ever know their name.
So, the life of an artist is not easy, but that did nothing to lessen my anger on being left out. My resentment against artists who do installations is a lot less than those who just paint. They work hard, get their hands dirty in mud, metal or clay, they sweat and they toil just like the rest of us. I don’t mind when they get the big bucks and I don’t mind seeing their work.
And I didn’t mind a bit when my wife dragged me all bloodied to the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. It’s right behind the Select City Walk mall in Saket, Delhi. Next to the most shamelessly opulent mall in the capital is country’s first private art museum without any directions and signboards. If you don’t know it’s there, you won’t know it’s there which is good in a way.
Entry was free but my wife and me were the only ones present for the first twenty minutes, that on a Saturday afternoon. God, please keep it that way. It’s quite a huge museum and there is some amazing work on display there. Photography was prohibited so I can’t show you anything here, and I don’t possess the power of prose to describe them, so I won’t even try.
I took a few pictures of Subodh Gupta’s Line of Control which was installed outside the museum. But there were quite a few I would happy to pay and click. Above all I remember this one installation which was a mound of concrete with hundreds of coins embedded in it. Mounted within a circle of brass artwork, it was bathed in oil to give it the wet earth look. It looked like an asteroid from Planet Moolah.