Sumatimohan, Self Sketch, Ink on paper, 6" x 4"
TRUTH GIVES LIFE TO ART by Sumatimohan
This is my dedication, my thoughts. Truth has always been a very important word in my life, especially since I painted the philosophy of Mahatma Ghandi, a father of the Indian nation who believed "Truth is God." I am a religious man myself who believes in a universal God, a God who can be realized by all who seek after truth, by all who practice a religion of non-violence. Nowadays, the idea of truth has entered in my thoughts of art. I am still, of course, developing my thinking, even though whatever I understand today I am presenting here.
When I first came to America, I was confused as to what makes great art. When I studied philosophy I understood more about art, and there is more that I will understand, but I can say that my feeling about art is that "truth gives life to art."
An artist will die, but lives on through art. No one can say how long the art will exist, but it is sure that the truth in the art will make it live much longer.
"Art is a way of life," wrote Mr. Nissim Ezekiel, an art critic, in the Times of India, Bombay, November 18,1964 in his review of my paintings at my first one-person show in Bombay, India. If art is a way of life then it is true that when someone criticizes art, he criticizes the artist's life. Art is a language, which represents the artist's life, thought and philosophy; art is what the artist wants to say to the world. Art reveals the artist's life to the world. When the art shows some defects, it indicates that the artist's life has some corresponding defects. The artist tries to correct the art, but the best way to correct art is through self-correction.
We must consider what it is that makes a person great that enables the creation of great art. To my understanding, real greatness, the kind for which a person is appreciated long after their death, the kind that is manifest in great art, derives from a life devoted to a realization of truth. Only the illusion of greatness can come from a source not based in truth, such as can be achieved by lying, cheating, political games. This may bring personal fame, but never lasting appreciation.
Truth does not have name, form, color, taste, smell, even though some people can see it, and others hunger for it. Science is the search for truth; religion is the experience of truth; and art is the expression of that experience of truth.
The first step towards truth is science. Science can live a long time without religion, science may disregard religion, but science cannot exist alone forever. When science discovers truth, it realizes it, and this realization is religion. The meaning of religion is the desire to unite with truth, to have the practical experience of truth. Religion is the second step of man's journey. Religion also can live a long time without art, just as science can live a long time without religion - but in the end religion must develop into art, because a person has a natural desire to express experiences of truth, to exhibit to the self and the world. Art is this presentation (exhibition) of truth. Whenever the experience of religion will be very intense; it will come pouring out of the person - here will be the birth of art.
Today science is looking to merge with religion. For too long, until now, a positivist science has opposed itself to religion. One day science will succeed in merging with religion, and will present the true art of the future.
Art must have aesthetic value first; this is the first step of art. The second step is intellectual or educative value; and the last step is, art should appeal to the highest spiritual feelings of humanity. When an artist concentrates on style and technique only, the main elements of art are lost.
Colors present the feelings of the artist's heart, forms present the thoughts, and lines; clarify these feelings and thoughts. Colors, forms, and lines create aesthetic value in art. When an artist wants to present the understanding of life through art, art becomes intellectual and educative. In the supreme stage the artist will try to bring truth to life so as to bring art to the highest level, the spiritual. The artist will seek to become a perfect, pure medium for the transmission of intense truths, which come flowing out of the self.
Art is a language, with a vocabulary of color for painting, of words for poetry, of tunes for music, of steps for dance, of gestures for drama, by which an artist presents life, the feelings of the heart and thoughts of the mind. Style shows individuality of art but it alone does not show the artist's life. It is not only important how the artist presents, but also: what the artist presents.
Art may be bom in great turmoil, in great struggling of the artist, but it must give truth and joy to others. The pleasure or pain in the process of creation, which the artist may have experienced, is a separate question from the value of the finished product as art. This value can only be measured by the truth and joy the work of art expresses and inspires.
Truth is universal. It never dies. It is beautiful and great, it gives delight. Therefore truth is never far from art; art should always be imbued with truth. The only thing that the artist has to be concerned with is how to bring the truth into life, so that truth can flow out into art - then the truth offers longer life to art.
I summarize this by saying "Truth gives life to art.."
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