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On Discovering That One Can Paint

September 23, 2013 | By

The works of Boticelli, Michaelangelo, Raphael or Titian enrapture the spirit and have capacities to heal moribund souls.

One of the chief delights of living for a person of ordinary capabilities would be to discover that they may at last be able to boast of a talent that not everybody can claim to posses. The reason to delight becomes all the more understandable when the concerned capability promises to be indispensible to them even in times of overwhelming ennui.

To therefore discover by various degrees that one can successfully apply the brush to the canvas proves to be of great delight and excitement. One finds that the possibility of at last being able to effectively engage in an activity that requires a rather organic involvement with the surroundings, is not only romantic, but also strangely stimulatingly and sensual.

That being so, the consequent transformation of every object beautiful or pleasing, into a painted rendition on the canvas of the imagination is startlingly exhilarating.

The School of Athens

The School of Athens, or Scuola di Atene in Italian, is one of the most famous paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael.

One no longer simply looks at the sun setting into the blushing horizon or a river lapping at the parched earth as simply “natural phenomenon”, but looks at them hungrily, as subjects for art; as objects that are sublime in every aspect, and that may be reinvented with the brush, and subsequently possessed.

Indeed, greed, an inexplicably insatiable desire to produce in imitation, objects which have always seemed beyond one’s comprehension, grips the heart and makes it wild and feverish. There is, one would say, something poetic – nay – extra-ordinarily sinful and tempting about being able to imitate – and imitate aesthetically.

The talent of being able to do so is not just that but a power that leaves one wild with ecstasy, and eager for more. The power threatens to possess the soul and make it frenzied: it threatens to sober one and make them acutely sentimental; it threatens to heighten their senses and make them shatteringly perceptive… It makes them hedonistically obsessed and nihilistically individualistic.

To reflect, recreating in imitation of God is one of the oldest and severely punished sins, as far as the Christian worldview is concerned. However, one may agree with the thesis that to imitate works of the Almighty is presumptuous, and that it is sinful for it is strangely intoxicating.

Moreover, perfection is not needed; to imitate imperfectly, vaguely, lightly, grotesquely, even colourlessly is a capability that can possess you with passions of a strange nature. Art – and one will not even harangue on the nature of ‘true’ art and simply understand it as a work that pleases the onlooker, or at least appeals to any one aspect of his imagination — once produced, is eternally gratifying both to the creator as well as the partaker.

The correctness, precision, and shade-nuancing is inconsequential if the result is still spectacular even if it is peculiar. And departing from the object imitated is seldom penalised today, and is in fact lauded if it is carried out successfully.

That being said, it is of course necessary to re-iterate that the highest form of art would be Realism, for accurate and just imitation is not only of uncommon occurrence, but also beyond the capability of every artist. And due to the sheer virtue of it being extra-ordinary, Realism must be given the highest position amongst all forms of art that have evolved over ages and streamlined works of artists over centuries.

It must be however be admitted that the forms that later followed delight one also, but one cannot deny an unmistakable partiality towards the form of Realism in general, for it entrances the senses and leaves one breathless with admiration with the sheer quality of representation.

Indeed, the works of Boticelli, Michaelangelo, Raphael or Titian enrapture the spirit and have capacities to heal moribund souls. The surplus of meanings and sensual beauty in such paintings are indescribable, immeasurable. Indeed, to comprehend and appreciate such works of art itself would be admirable, and to be able to imitate them would be divine.

The infinite as well as infinitesimal ways in which art, paintings to be precise, can please the being and cure the mind are stupefying. And the miraculous ways it can change the outlook and influence the perspectives, extraordinary.

Ipshita Nath is enrolled in the third semester of the Masters degree programme of the Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Cultural Studies, Jawaharal Nehru University, Delhi. Her research interests come under the rubric of Cultural Studies, though she has an abiding fondness for the textual mythologies of Shakespeare, Milton, Byron and nineteenth century British and American novelists. She occasionally indulges herself in écriture poesy, enjoys the music of Kumar and Burman, is as fascinated by the persona of Marilyn Monroe as by the works of Botticelli and Michelangelo, has an enduring passion for bi-chromatic American, Bengali and Hindi cinema and would like to get hold of a time-traveller to hop in to the ‘40s and the ‘70s.
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