Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art as spontaneous expression ? (Nonsense!)

Recently on TV I came across an event in which different poets were reciting their poems in memory of a bygone poet. As part of it there was a recital along with which was a live demonstration of Artist Namboothiri. Artist Namboothiri is a great artist with lot of original talent. He is, shall I say, a genius. He was apparently translating to canvas the poem that was being recited. But most probably he came with a plan and he was executing it. All this prompted me to think whether this impromptu thing was possible.

My thinking is that painting involves a lot of technique and planning. There are artists like Jackson Pollock who throw paint on canvas. I am not a great fan of such expressionists. I believe in the conscious use of principles and techniques. I think that is true about all artistic expressions including poetry.

Wordsworth talks about 'emotions recollected in tranquility', not emotion expressed as is.

I remember my literature classes nearly fifteen years ago. The famous Victorian poet Tennyson's most famous poem is 'In Memoriam'. It is an elegy on the death of his college friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. Hallem died in 1833. In Memoriam was published only 1850. It took 17 years for Tennyson to perfect his emotion in the form of an artistic expression. By that time what must have happened to the original emotion is anybody's guess. The poem is written in a metre that is quite rare, which is now called the In Memoriam metre. It is deftly managed. It is an entirely different thing from impromptu emotional response. Artistic expression is often premeditated, planned and involving technical skill, I think.

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