Divorcing Art From Artist

When your momma says your opinion matters, she’s lying. That too on your face.

An ugly person who’s beautiful as a person

If somebody tells me one thing, I call that an opinion. Then move on with life. But if a dozen people tell me something, it’s serious. Their words could be more than an opinion. Might as well be a narrative worth paying attention. This blog post is about one such narrative. I can’t divorce the art from the artist. I’ve heard this line from many people on several occasions. If I saved a rupee everytime I heard it, I would’ve bought a MacBook. Too much exaggeration. Not a MacBook but at least a dozen apples. Okay now?

When you can’t separate the art from the artist, you’re in a bubble. I’ll explain it in the next 5 minutes. I don’t want to get you out of your bubble. Because you’ll believe what you want to believe. I’m not here to change anybody’s mind but write what’s in mine. Before you move ahead, remember the following:-

  • People who told me this line, all of them are from the academic world. Readers of Camus, Kafka, Nietzsche and likewise. They hate Chetan Bhagat, click photos of flowers and so on. You get the idea. Oh, forgot to add they also hug trees.
  • I got tired of seeing these people shame those who they’ve never met. And won’t ever meet because artists who they shame are dead. Alive ones are way out of their reach. When the other person isn’t available to defend, anyone can be a critic.

With that said, I’ve intentionally not used specific people as examples. To avoid bringing up biases often associated with certain public figures. With the above framework installed in your brain, let me begin. All what I’m doing here is highlighting your cognitive blind spots. Nothing more. Nothing less. Expect yourself to get challenged and surprised by the end of it.

Don’t mix business with pleasure

We’re not supposed to mix our personal and professional life unless you’re a sugar baby. Business means work and pleasure means personal stuff. Mixing them leads to undesirable consequences. Same thing applies to the art and artist question. If a writer beats his wife and comes up with a great novel, it is a marvelous deed in itself. Think about it. He’s a wife beater and that’s a bad thing. I agree. But despite his anger problems and marital disputes, he writes a great novel. Or makes a remarkable painting. Wow. The ultimate case study of not mixing work and personal life. I give an applause from my side.

Art as a way to earn

I’ve met a lot of folks who deeply understand art. They know which brush stroke to use in which portrait. Can manipulate camera angles to show a new perspective. They know it all and they know it well. On and on and on. Coincidentally, none of them earns enough to be financially stable. By their own standards of money I mean, of course. A polite way to say that they are broke. Besides this, I found one more common thing among them. What? Art is a way of expressing feelings and conveying progressive messages. All of them say it all the time. Which is why they call best selling books “Cheap Airport Reading Pastimes”. And in their eyes blockbuster movies are “Poor Cinematic Experience”. Art for some artists is a way to earn money. To feed a hungry belly. To live a lifestyle the artist wanted to enjoy while growing up. Art doesn’t necessarily have to be meaningful. There’s no lawful definition of meaning. Varies for everyone. If an artist is getting rich from her art, she isn’t a sellout. Or phony. Or corny capitalist. We’re in this world to have the best time we can. If she signs a contract for making shitty songs and buys a mansion, she’s awesome. Walks on red carpet wearing a diamond heel, even better. On the other hand, you’re a sucker for academic jargon and bullshit. Grow up my highly literate critic friend. Grow the hell up. Life’s unfair. People have privilege and they use art to gain privilege. While your pursuit of finding meaning in art becomes garbage.

The way you do one thing is the way you do everything

Motivational coaches love talking about this. When an actor harasses his colleagues, people extend that to other things. This is called Horns effect. Where you correlate one undesirable trait of a person to other traits. One part of your life doesn’t overshadow other parts of your life. Before a surgery, you want to know about your doctor’s competence. Whether he smacks his toddler before sleep is not your concern. On those lines, think of art as a profession and artists as professionals. They do what they’re good at and get paid. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to work. Does it hurt my ability to serve a client? It does. But do I still give my best? You bet I do. My personal life’s incompetence doesn’t relate to my money-making competence. I wish both of them could be equally good. But life’s not a fairy tale. No human is perfect and no artist is perfect. So the way you do one thing is not the way you do everything. Motivational coaches on TED talk have told you the wrong thing.

They are racist, sexist, hypocrite etc

Labelling people is how wannabes signal their virtues and moral superiority. Even if they’ve got no virtues or morals. Weak thing to do. Imagine a musician. He loves his wife and respects his parents. Donates to charities and stays sober. I’ll call him a boring musician. On the other hand, imagine another one. He shows fuck finger in public and shouts in his concerts. Does drugs and poses with naked girls on Instagram. Plus, he left his house in teenage rebellion. This musician is interesting. Because nobody wants to know about ordinary and perfect life. It has no vibe and spice. You know what’s exciting? The dichotomy between great art and other bad parts of an artist’s life. Immediately draws your attention. Artists magically maintain this larger than life persona. So that your shell of boredom breaks and feelings of awe slip into it. That’s why try looking beyond your labels. They’re anyways half-baked truths proposed to you by professional critics and academics. These foul and angry folks either get paid to bash famous people. Or they want to show their virtues and morals. Whatever the case, critics are useless anyways. What I would happily see? Kim Kardashian’s big booty in her sextape. Licking my lips already. What I would never ever see? Research paper on “Body image and mental health troubles in adolescents”. Makes me yawn already.

Contrast leads to growth

To measure anything, you need a calibrated device. There’s no such device for art. At least I’ve never seen one. Definition of art varies even among its gatekeepers. That’s why what you’ll find disgraceful, I may find it amusing. This is where the fun begins. Seeing a film which is offensive or derogatory leaves you with a thought. Opens up the room for better creations. Personal ethics might make the consumer of an art dissatisfied. That dissatisfaction either makes you a creator or a mouth babbling critic. I prefer the former route. A creative product can only be compared to another creative product. That’s closest we can get to having a calibrated device for art. Calling a painting misogynistic is poor strategy. Making a women centric painting to show your message is an appropriate one. Talk is cheap. Anybody can talk. Showing your creative product is how you stand apart from a wordplay enthusiast. On that note, I’ll leave you with a thought. If an artist writes and people go insane, he’s doing a great job. How? Because other writers can then create work as per their definition of writing. Much better use of energy than outraging on social media, no? That’s the power of contrast. The artist you can’t separate from his art makes space for more artists to come. An amazing deed effectively done.

I could write more. But I’ve written enough. The next time somebody tells you “I can’t divorce the art from the artist”, think about my arguments. You’ll look beyond anger and hate. If the other person doesn’t agree with you, no big deal. They’re a stupid bitch who reads Murakami at night. And cry into their pillow after switching off the light. They’ll suffer in blame and shame. Artists are creators. Creators are the residents of the art world. Critics are gatekeepers. There’s nothing proud worthy about being a gatekeeper. I’ll rather spend time with a stupid artist than an intelligent critic. I’m done divorcing the bullshit from stuff that makes sense. An artist doesn’t have to agree with your politically correct ideals. Appreciate those who challenge the status quo with their deeds and ill-deeds. Be better than a critic. And before you close this link, scan through this blog for five seconds. Only five seconds. No sentence has more than 12 words. No word has more than 12 letters. That’s art for me. You can call it whatever. I’m an artist. You can call me whatever.

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