Sunday, June 5, 2005

Portrait of an Artist as an Young Man

Why is it that we all (or most of us all) have Drawing and Art (as it was called at my school) and art as one of our worse subjects? After every exam, I used to be happy if I got passing marks in this paper. Not that it helped much. My parents and teachers couldn't understand why I was unable to draw a straight line even with a ruler. (After all my elder brother could draw and paint competently if not like the best. He, unlike me, also had a neat and legible handwriting but that's a different story. Later in college, he majored in Economics while I labored with the Law of elasticity of demand. And yes, that's another story too.)

I tried my best to draw but my lines and squiggles were always the worst effort in the class.

And now I find that I have Jug Suraiya for company:
The Art test called for us to paint a political procession, a common sight in Calcutta, then as now. After two hours of intense aesthetic application I handed in my finished work: A rectangle of unrelieved, solid black. What on earth is this? asked Hennessey dazedly. A top view of a street procession, sir, after the procession has passed, sir, I replied. For once, Hennessey was speechless. He did murmur a 'Cochon!'. But it was an almost reverential 'Cochon!', as though to say 'Who is this swine whose swinishness passes all understanding?' Hennessey told me that he ought to give me a zero.But since no one, ever, in the history of Art had got a zero — that a zero went against the basic tenet of Art that anything has to signify something — he was awarding me 1 mark.
My lowest was nine out of 50 when I was in the third standard. Eight was the passing mark. Maybe I can't write as well as Jug Suraiya but I certainly can draw better.

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