This is what the Minister of Karnataka said "..a few artists, in the name of modern art, were insulting Indian culture and tradition. This is because of the perverted thinking of a few self-proclaimed intellectuals, who are heading various cultural and art institutions,” and brought upon himself the collective ire of the 'Artists'
An artist, M S Murthy, with the mandatory beard, shouted at the minister, interrupted his speech and in the end, was escorted away by the police. He said "You don’t know what is modern art. Better stop talking about it", according to a Newspaper. I saw many artists expressing similar view on the telly. Other responses from artists included "the minister has hurt the artist's sentiment", "Minister knows nothing about Art and should keep out of it" etc. Going by the same yardstick, if the Politicians say that the artists have no business criticizing those in Politics because the artists know nothing about Politics, is it acceptable?" Ambika Soni took this opportunity to score over BJP and said something equally irrelevant as Congress always does.
No single artist wanted to debate it. They all gave it an emotional color, as any self respecting fundamentalist would do under similar circumstances. If you do not know by know, I want it on record, these artists are the 'intellectuals' who unravel what is not obvious to us, mortal beings, through their art.
The minister did say 'few artists' and we all know that for the minister 'few' = M F Hussein. I would have expected the intelligent artists to debate this and put the facts before the public and defend their point of view. Not one did that. They all turned it into an emotional issue and if I am correct, the artists will also bring out a protest march to boot.
Lot of questions come up. Should only an artist ever make an observation about the artist and art? (Some artist had mentioned that the Minister does not know art and should not make any comment about it) Absurd, but an artist said so.
I am defending the Minister's right to say what he thinks is true. I do not think that what he said was absolute truth nor I am willing to accept that there is no evidence of truth at all. The fact lies, according to me, somewhere in between. M F Hussein has not come very clean on the subject of 'Nude Saraswati'. On the one hand, he is supposed to have said that he painted Hitler in the nude to insult him.
This is what Tejpal had to say about the MFH's painting. "Defending artistic freedom is easy, but defending Husain can be tricky. Recently I was on a television panel discussion on the Limits to Artistic Freedom, and most of the show revolved around Husain's painting of Sita and Hanuman, and the ensuing attack on him by the Bajrang Dal. As a die-hard liberal, I was expected to defend Husain, and I did, but with dampened enthusiasm, and that too merely the principle of it, and not as its practiced by Husain. For, a few minutes before the show began I had a chance to see a copy of the painting. I must admit it's an incredibly erotic one - unlike the nude Saraswati which can be seen as ethereal - and Husain must really love trouble to have let it out into the public domain. Whatever their artistic worth, such paintings have simply too much inflamatory potential to be sent out into the world. I'd be curious to know what Husian was thinking when he fired it off." [Outlook, June 8, 1998.]
Tejpal was being 'nice' to MFH out of a sense of decency.
The key word is 'few' artists.
Now the artist community will perhaps say that Tejpal is not an artist, hence he knows nothing.
I can understand if Lalit Modi responds to FIR filed in Jaipur against him for misappropriating funds as 'politically motivated'. Even the Marxists terming the Pinarai Vijayan case as 'politically mitivated'. Once you term it as politically motivated you do not have to explain anything. Very convenient. The artist community has joined the elite company of Lalit Modi, CPM and Mayavati, by emotionalizing the issue. Pray tell me, what is the difference between Maya and Murthy? I see one thing common, their refusal to face a decent debate.
It is a curse of India that we have these jokers going around in the name of Artists. There are good artists but they are not as good in other realms. I have not seen one Artist taking a moral stand. I have not heard of one Artist who would stand up and say that he/she does not mind being criticized. They all talk like a dyed in wool PCs. Is there an artist who does not want his art to be accepted? Do these cry babies think that they should be showered praise ( and $$$$) and criticism is a strict no no? Buddha is turning in his grave. So is Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
This is how another artist sang.
"Here is my song for the asking
Ask me and I will play
So sweetly, I'll make you smile
This is my tune for the taking
Take it, don't turn away
I've been waiting all my life
Thinking it over, I've been sad
Thinking it over, I'd be more than glad
To change my ways for the asking
Ask me and I will play
All the love that I hold inside"