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


  1. I agree a lot with you, the typical professions do seem to have a very predictable journey. There's nothing much that can go wrong, nor anything that will suddenly work wonders for you.

    I did just the opposite of what you did. I wanted to take up art because I thought I would be able to express myself better, but my father told me a very interesting thing about taking up law, which landed me in that college finally, "Though it's a professional course and law is a powerful degree, the course itself won't take too much of your time and you will get the freedom to experiment or do what other stuff you like to do." He was right,Unfortunately I put my time into the wrong things, but jokes apart, now when I look back, I think I would not be able to take the uncertainty of where life is taking me, every single day! A little mystery is certainly required to make life interesting. But career and bread and butter better not be the source of mystery and entertainment.....that I can seek in other departments of life, why take too much risk and screw up this only 1 chance we get with this wonderful life?

  2. When your convictions are stronger than your doubts, then I believe anything is possible..
    But one requires patience, and strong will to hold on to those convictions.. till they prove right. if you have any spec of doubt like will i be able to make it or won't then you are screwed..

    I remember my swimming instructor once said, when you jump in that water you have to learn to trust water, to keep you afloat. moment you doubt the water; panic will set in and you will sink :)..

    life is like that water in the pool, you have to take your decision and trust life, to keep you afloat :) trust me it will...

    May be you had doubts about joining art school... and were not sure if it can give you bread and butter. Point is whatever you do has to have conviction to follow it, be it law, art . cinema..
    ask yourself, even if i fail do i want to do this.
    And if answer is yes, then just do it :)

    Finally, all of us sink in the beginning till you learn to trust your decisions. Osho says, make thousands of mistakes... but never repeat them again.
    hope you have found your path...and ready for that walk or shall i say jump :).