What is Art

The word Art is applied to so many forms of human activity. Writers on arts so far failed to find any definite definition of Arts.

Creative Impulse is central to all art creation. The musician is inspired to create music that is good to hear, the writer is inspired to write that is good to read. The painter, the sculptor, and the craftsman are inspired to create things that are good to see.

In fact art is the thrill of creation, the excitement of making something new. As his creation comes to life he feels a joy.

The Artist and His Audience
An artist’s work is for all. It has a life of its own, a life which lasts long after his creator is dead and forgotten. Even after thousand of years the carvings and rock paintings of the palaeolithic man still convey to us something of their time.

Throughout our history men have used symbols and forms to express their ideas and feelings. These creations enable us to understand and realize the meanings given by men to different aspects of their lives.

There are two ways to understand the nature of art, ‘making’ of art and and by studying the art created in the past and the present.

Fine Arts, Applied Arts and Crafts
According to Herbert Read, an eminent art historian:
The actual phrases, ‘Fine Art’ and ‘Applied Art’ may be largely the creation of the machine age, but the underlying distinction is a product of the Renaissance. Before the Renaissance, the so-called Fine Arts (architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry) were not explicitly named, nor distinctly recognised, as a separate class’ even in in classical Greece there was only one word ‘techne’, for both kinds of art… The use of the term ‘Fine Arts’ is closely bound up with the history of academics of art, which is usually academics of ‘Fine Art’.

In the West, largely as a by-product of the Renaissance, the field of art had many subdivisions. The fine arts included in it painting, architecture and sculpture, the terms minor arts included works of goldsmiths, illuninators, ivory carvers and other crafts produced by skilled craftsmen or skilled workers.

A craft article has a certain psychological or spiritual function too, that of satistfying the innate craving of man for beauty in its myriad forms.

In India also an interest has grown in different craft methods. Since 1970 onwards small groups of artist-craftsmen are devoted to the making of genuine craft objects in various media, such as clay, stone, wood, metal (including enamel on copper), hand-woven and knotted fibres and glass (including fibreglass).

Artists now mix different media in a single work – watercolors, graphic techniques, acrylics or oil paints, nails, mirrors and beads. To add to these are woven forms, abstract stitcheries and murals in enamel, ceramics and fibreglass.

Paintings and sculpture are handicrafts by dictionary definition, but only in the conventional sense can one describe either as a handicraft.

The Indian Tradition
The Indian Tradition of arts is based on inner experiences. The artists since long been exploring man’s inner experiences and creative energies. They were aware that its is the state of consciousness which assume shapes. According to Sukara Niti Saar, Kala or art was a more complete discipline (to develop a person’s mind) than vidya or learning through reading and writing.

Sukaracharya had stated that the main characteristic of an artist’s creation was its power of drawing one towards inwardness and contemplation.

The image-maker was therefore assumed to be meditative; to be able to enter into a state of deep absorption. According to Sukracharaya meditative contemplation helps in understanding and quality of observation. Art in the Indian concept was an all embracing discipline.

The creative effort of artist had to pierce through more than one dimension of the experience that through time, space, light and consciousness to be connected to the ultimate creative source – the ultimate reality of universe, the Self.

All aesthetic enjoyment takes place in citta – the creative centre where the appropriate shape/form of an image was determined. This citta is described as hridaya (heart) by poets.

Ananda (joy) is produced when Hridaya Akash – the ideal space in the innermost core innermost core of one’s being unifies with citta. By practicing absorption and inwardness bliss is attained. Spiritual bliss was the same as aesthetic bliss.

The history of Indian art show the creative strength and realisation of ancient Indian artist. It was based on spiritual ideals and values of the people. It was quite diversified with wide and varied art activity.

In Indian tradition artist rendered the rhythmical flow of creative power into his art work. He had to see beyond the object with the eyes of the atman as atman alone sees.

By: Vijay Khare