Painting history on canvas

From clearance sales of mammoth tusks to mega launches of grandfather clocks, the world has certainly seen the rise and fall of many commodities

author_img Jitha Karthikeyan Published :  16th December 2021 03:40 PM   |   Published :   |  16th December 2021 03:40 PM
Painting history on canvas

Painting history on canvas

Set of five masks for Rs 299 only’. Who would have thought of looking for such bargains two years ago? Not even in our wildest dreams would we have imagined a product like this becoming an integral part of our lives, screaming at us from every store, every cart, and all our social media pages too. The only mask that was part of many a shopping list was the face mask in tubes, the sustained use of which held the promise of eternal youth. Most products, gadgets and inventions rule the consumer kingdom like undefeatable giants only to abdicate the throne in favour of newer versions or when the purpose of its existence fades away. From clearance sales of mammoth tusks to mega launches of grandfather clocks, the world has certainly seen the rise and fall of many commodities.

Obviously, not everything has merely a fleeting relevance! True, indeed. There are those that stand the test of time, remaining untouched by geographical, cultural or social upheavals. Art is one such, never having ever lost its meaning and the ability to tell our stories.

What stories would art tell of our times today? Would it reflect the carpet bombing of our sanity with ‘Covid dos and don’ts’, WhatsApp forwards or the Shakespearean dilemma of To be or Not to be vaccinated, many wavering minds went through? Or would it be steeped in the reality of the times we live in? These virus-filled days have been dark indeed. And art has always shone its brightest light on such darkness. From the Bubonic Plague, the Spanish Flu, the World Wars and every single man-made or natural calamity there ever has been, artists have always silently documented them. Some have been visual testimonies while others have stirred the collective conscience of nations. A fine example is the art of Zainul Abedin and Somnath Hore whose artistic responses to the Bengal Famine of 1943, helped the nation understand the gravity of the situation and unite in the struggle for independence, at a time when information trickled down obscure sources and the Internet was many dreams away.

Long after the universe is back in shape and masks don’t clog our nostrils anymore, when webinars have become a grandmother’s story and social distancing is only applied to those boring one-way conversationalists,  art will still echo the truth of our times. The migrant worker’s long walk back home, the Corona warriors, the desperate search for a breath of oxygen, the lives lost, the dreams dreamt in the confines of our redefined homes, the hope that kept us alive....will all adorn the walls of museums and patrons, preserved for eternity. After all the chaos, art will remain the strongest reminder of the strength we gathered to survive. A true repository of history. When the din of all the discount sales has subsided to a faint whisper, art will always endure as humanity’s loudest voice.