Thursday, February 5, 2009

Appreciation of art and adding meaning to life

One way of assessing maturity or positive progress of any civilization is to look at its achievement in the various art forms

This may be music, literature, dance, sculpture and painting. It is not enough if there are performers in these fields. There should a larger participation of lay persons in that civilization who know how to appreciate and enjoy these art forms.

Not all of us are fortunate to be exponents of art forms. It is reserved for the privileged few who have the perseverance, talent and single-mindedness to pursue these interests often at great personal sacrifice. But if we don’t have the talent or perseverance, the next best thing is to develop a feeling for appreciation of art. Everyone has eyes but few can appreciate a work of art or the abundant beauty that is around us. To give one personal example. I must have seen the painting of Sunflowers by Van Gogh at least a thousand times. I am still not tired and can see it again with the same pleasure many times more. It simply dazzles me. Same is true of the painting of water lilies by Claude Monet. What is this feeling which so uplifts my spirit that is contained in these paintings? I cannot say it; it has to be experienced and cannot be easily described.

I have seen and heard musicians performing. The expression on their faces is one of intense pleasure. They are so involved that they are oblivious to their surroundings. To experience of listening to some of the great musicians is the same as one gets one views a great painting. I can say the same with dance forms.

I recently had the pleasure of viewing a recorded performance of Bharathnatyam [a form of classical Indian dance] by a young relative of mine, Mithila Ballal [Mittu, as she is known to us]. I sat transfixed for more than one hour watching and listening. It was a soul filling experience and I felt I was in the presence of a great talent.

Our lives can often be boring because it consists of many repetitive acts. Some of these are necessary to live and some we are forced to because to live we have to do these. Our humdrum lives can become interesting and meaningful if we develop interest in one or other form of art. This is true for all ages but especially so when one grows old!


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your views. Just an interesting thought.A friend of mine came to our house and was looking at the pictures on the wall. It was Claude Monet's water lilies. I told him that Monet and Van Gogh were my favourites. So were his also. I asked him if he was born in March since I was born on 17th March. He said he was born on 19th March ! I am now wondering if you are a Piscean also ! If so, it is food for thought !

Leslie said...

Dr. Rao, I love your blog because you always inspire me with new thoughts and ideas. Thinking and learning are my favorite hobbies!

Because of this post I looked up the dance you mentioned on youtube. I loved it. I love Cultural Dance in general, and this style in particular.

I was embarrassed because I think I have seen the paintings you mentioned, but didn't really appreciate them. So I went to the library and got a book about art appreciation!

You are an inspiration!


Anonymous said...

I honestly donot know if the ability to appreciate art is instinctive [as in the case of childern appreciating the violin in the subway] or cultivated. I now live in an area where one gets to hear south indian classical music. But I ahve no ear for this at all [though I donot get head aches like Mr Kamthi did]
I grew up listening to Hindustani classical and that must have left an everlasting impression. Another reason why we should catch them young [not for purposes like the Taliban are doing!]
In fact the ability to experience classical music is said to be one way of realising the devine! That is why in Indain tradition music is Nada Bramhan. Nada is music and Brmhan is the supreme power [my translation]
Hope a new hobby [art appreciation will make your already rich life richer.

Leslie said...

Instinctive or cultivated? Excellent question. I don't know either, but perhaps it is or could be both?

For example, some people are born with a talent say to play the piano. Others may not be born with the talent but could learn given the effort?

I have delved into art and I'm loving it. It looks like it is going to take my children a little more time though...if that means anything. :) Leslie

Anonymous said...

Ya it is very true that we need to have some extracurricular activities in all our lives. I love dancing and I feel relaxed at the end of it.