02 March 2012

Artist, Undone by Sanjay V. Kumar

Rave review
Reading this book I found myself thinking, after a very long time, “How I wish I could write like this!” I very much admired both style and content.
Harsh Sinha is good-looking, well-educated, articulate, regular Joe and premier arranged-marriage votary. He has never wooed, never flirted. (Never learnt the give and take, the sensitive yes and no, the important maybes, the gestures, the unspoken thoughts, the ups and downs that make for companionship with women.) The drafts folder of his email is always full with his jottings. (Naerapongo: Go straight is the only direction you will ever get in Chennai. ‘Naerapongo saar’. It is accompanied by a wave of the hand that could be in any direction. Go straight. I think it is a philosophical derivative because it usually doesn’t get you very far.)
Through Harsh’s story, the author gives us a sweeping view of the Indian art world: how some artists live, the cold silence and unique marketing style of Mumbai galleries, the ad-hocism of price and purchase, the hard-to-decipher (although very elegant and all) language of art-catalogue writing, the wide scope of art studies – including the what-will-they-ever-think-of-next of Confessional Art – and even, right at the end, a comprehensive (and in-your-face) answer to that provocative question “Why do people buy art”.

The characters in this book are real ‘characters’ … check this.
Newton Kumaraswamy. Given to speech at the oddest times. Like when there was no one around.
And Gopi … he was in a halfway house – all the time. He had been single for a decade, during which the closest he got to a woman was when the ayah swept the floor under his bum as he lay sprawled on his chair.
Manoj Tyaagi’s parents fretted for years at his lack of communication skills and social etiquette – little knowing what a prolific and exhibitionistic writer he would turn out to be one day.
There are others, equally fascinating.
One of the things I admired most about this book was that sections are presented in different voices and each one is unique to its owner – a skill only the best writers have.
And – the book is an intriguing combination of fact and fiction (and some minor errors). Many of the names are of real people and real works of art or writing. But many are entirely made up and I found that confusing were there all kinds of insider references I wasn't getting?
What I didn’t like is the editors’ poor knowledge of Bombay – mixing up Arthur Bunder with Arthur Road Jail and calling the Bombay Gymkhana Club the Mumbai Gymkhana Club – hahaha.

Anyway ... Sanjay V. Kumar – can I get your autograph please?

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