Saturday, October 22, 2011

Walk Alone! Thou walk Alone!!

While conversing with an astute art collector, he bragged, “people often ask my advise before picking any artist's work”. After a long pause I hesitatingly asked “and what do you advise?” Very proudly the collector recounted the 'symptoms' of a good artist with an air of financial consultant how to pick up a good stock. “WOW! that ****** easy” I thought to myself. How easily he charted the 'career' graph of a successful artist. Very patronizingly he advised me, “If you follow the path I told you; you will hit the jackpot one day. Trust me.”

I do trust his words. I have no doubts on his wise words careful thought over period of years of experience of seeing , reading and buying art. Few days later, I was admonished with very similar advise from an upcoming curator. You have to show your works to international curators ( like me) , forget the galleries out here in India they won't take you far. I remembered an artist's words whom I have mentioned in my earlier blogs. That was ten years ago. Those words sound prophetic today.

I just thought to myself, Why did I choose to become an artist? I could have become a lawyer as my grandfather wanted. I could have become a doctor as my mother wanted. There were many things which so many people wanted me to be, because I was good at academics. At 15 after I finished my school boards, and was asked to choose the stream that I would like to pursue my career; I just declared I will join an art school. "What an art school?"... my mother repeated my words with most shocking tone. Honestly, I was as shocked as she was as I uttered the word artist. I was as clueless as she was. At 15 you are not sure. Who you are. Or who you would be when you grow up.

Teacher, lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant? I thought all these above professions were so safe and boring. There was no excitement . At 15 you don't want to live a routine life. Nobody knew what would be a life of an artist. All people knew of was stories of horrible lives the famous artists like Van Gogh and others who suffered while creating master pieces and died mostly as paupers. No one in my family knew how to chart a life an artist. Or at least there were no pundits like the collector who 'knew' how to spot a successful artist.

"Yes I want to be an artist" I told my mom emphatically. Looking back, being an artist for me was a rebellion. Being an artist for me was a chance to hunt for my freedom. Being an artist for me was a chance to know myself.

I fancied the uncertainty of finding a way, not knowing where I am going , what I am looking for and where I will end up with. There was so much mystery and romanticism for being an artist as against the charted career of an doctor, lawyer engineer or accountant

For me, being an artist was a journey not an profession.
Twenty years down the line, I am still on a journey. I still struggle to understand what am I doing here. Am I on right track? As Sacred , lost, confused unable to understand the surroundings around me as I started on this journey.But that's what I like the most! NOT KNOWING. Every moment is struggle , but every moment is ALIVE.

Just imagine losing all this for a predictable 'profession'. All professions have their career graphs charted. So if you are an artist or lawyer, or doctor doesn't matter.Your goals, increments, accolades, achievements... every mile stone is charted..

The collector, or the curator who recounted the “symptoms” of an successful artist is very right. They know the symptoms of success but not the process. If you choose a profession you can achieve success. But if you choose the process of an artist you will
discover life.

Sorry sir, and Thank you for the advise.
I want to walk this path alone. I want to discover this path by myself. Because I know there is no successes or failures on this path. Let me recount Rabindranath Tagore's words Ekla chalo re... walk alone...

Here is translation of the poem:

If they answer not to thy call, thou walk alone
Thou walk alone, walk alone. Thou walk alone.
If they speak not the Truth
If they all fear and turn away
O thou unfortunate, thou open up thy heart 
And speak the Truth that is there.
Thou speak alone.
If they all retreat
If they desert thou in the forest of hopelessness
O thou unfortunate, thou trample the thorns on thy path
and walk ahead on thy bloody feet.
Thou walk alone.
If there is no light
If they close their doors to thou in a stormy dark night
O thou unfortunate, thou burn thy ribs of thy chest
with the burning fire of lightning.
Thou burn alone.

Poem courtesy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Understanding Steve

Every time you drink coke, or Pepsi for that matter, do you think of the CEO of the company for giving you such a refreshing drink?

Every time you walk or jog in gym, do you think of CEO of Nike ,Reebok or Adidas for making that walk so comfortable for you?

Every time you sink your teeth in that favorite chocolate bar do you think of the CEO of the company who has made it so delicious for your taste?

Think again.
Why is that every time you hold an Apple product in your hand you think of Steve Jobs?

What makes Steve Jobs different from the rest of the CEOs?

Now that Jobs is dead; every Tom, Dick and Harry is writing an obit note, on facebook, twitter, in press, on tube, blogs name the media and every one wants to say something about Steve. Every one wants to know or thinks they know the man called Steve Jobs.

Lets find out.
Like millions, I don't know Steve Jobs. And yet I am curious to"understand' him or I think I know something about Steve.

First time we bought an IMac, I fell in love with its package. Forget the Mac that came in it. I knew how it looked , but what blew me out totally was the packaging details. I had never expected that its package would be so beautiful. Like many, I had no heart to throw away such an beautiful box so, stored it neatly on my loft. I just had to know who made it and why?
It is like when you see Taj Mahal for the first time and you have to ask who built it and why?

We bought many apple product thereafter. Every time I would tell myself, "Man! it is @#$%^& expensive I am not gonna buy this one". But every time I laid my hands on it, I was totally seduced by it.

That's what Steve did it. To every consumer of the apple product
Seduction by design( pun intended) . Nothing of Apple comes cheap. and yet no one complains after having it. Steve was no great engineer, or even an artist according John Scully who fired Steve from Apple. And yet he controlled every aspect of the product. From software programming to the last button on the packaging product came from his head. He was control freak and a ruthless task master. Without which he would not have delivered such a vision. And his vision had a simple mantra "keep it simple". Something very hard to follow. Something which he followed diligently every time he brought a new product in the market.

Steve and design were inseparable
The way he looked( he was definitely a chikna guy ), the way he dressed, the way he spoke or the way he presented his product had an element of design, exactly the way he wanted to look . This definitely added to the Apple's persona. Every time you consumed an Apple product you knew you are consuming a bit of Steve. This was his way of touching millions of people he never met but cared immensely. It is a strange magical connection. An enigma in itself.

Magic is most cliched word today. And yet it is so apt for Steve.
Today every person is trying to understand Steve Jobs. His philosophy. His Vision. His beauty. His perfection. His ruthlessness. Pages after pages are being written on him.
Man who had everything under his control knew that only death cannot be controlled. So he made truce with death, making him his adviser.

All I can understand when I try to understand Steve Jobs, his life was full of struggles.
Not an easy life at all. Not a perfect life either.
But it is man like Steve Jobs who can set standards of what a human life can be.

R.I.P Steve Jobs!!