Goals and Objectives of Professional Art Education and its Relationship With Contemporary Art 

Sunday, June 20, 2010 5:36:00 PM

- By Prof. R. S. Bisht

We have had two hundred years of varying systems of art education. This creates a challenge to any art-educationist. It is a well accepted fact that if we have to prepare students, we have to train them in such a manner so that they may imbibe the spirit of adventure to meet future challenges that will be thrown up by the new technological culture and not only in contemporary art but in other art forms like advertising, graphics, pottery, industrial, textile, weaving, etc.

There are quite a few significant artists in the contemporary art world and some of them proclaim that they are self taught; this may be partially true, but if one goes into their life history, one finds that they might not have acquired art education in the professional art schools, but must have undergone some kind of informal art education for a short period of time either in the association of some working artist of the time or with an art institution or had some private coaching. The claim that they are self taught, is nothing but a gimmick to draw the attention of people to get quick recognition. This only proves that art education is an essential component of contemporary art world.

The present professional at school concept in the country was introduced by the Britishers in the model of British Art Schools. With the passage of time, the Indian intelligentia struggled for its cultural awakening. Some Indian artists started looking for their inspiration into their own rich traditions. This aroused favourable interest in the mind of the then rulers and some kind of traditional art forms were incorporated in teaching and few such art schools or societies were also instituted in some parts of the country, where more emphasis was given to Indian method and technique.

That was the time when Europe was experiencing an explosive art situation and that wave also touched the Indian shores and some Indian artists’ works were influenced with the so called modern approach. Various art groups were formed in big and small art centres and their activities have drawn considerable attention of art connoisseurs and art critics and art students. Though their art activities were confined to few cities, but it gave a new orientation to the contemporary art of the time.

After a long struggle, India attained freedom. This was a time when World War was over. With the dawn of Independence, the stage was set for formulating a new dynamic concept of democracy, socialism and secularism, taking into consideration the regional, national and global situation. This unique experiment which India is undergoing, we firmly believe, will bring all-round growth and progress in all areas of human activities, because this ideology is a human and noble one. The National psyche has undergone a tremendous transformation. New areas of development were identified and new ideas with close cooperation with other developed countries were initiated. Visual art being an important expression of human activity, also got place in the National and State planning. Lalit Kala Akademies at the Centre and at State levels were created for the promotion of Visual Art. Under cultural exchange, treaties with various countries, programme of exchanges of art exhibitions became a regular feature, with the result, the contemporary art of the country underwent influences of various art movements of the world, especially of the West. Experimentation had become the cult of the contemporary artists, living in the urban areas.

The net result was that in this sphere a lot of activity was generated and big cities experienced large number of exhibitions of various State Akademies, Societies, Group shows and Solo ones. This was unprecedented in our history. In the name of creativity, gimmicks with high sounding manifestoes are still taking place, which, at times, causes great concern, as they, though temporarily, distort thinking and even expression. National Akademies too ventured in Triannale. An International Art exhibition is a regular annual feature. In the early ears of its inception, it used to excite the artists and generate enthusiasm in them; now we notice a gradual withdrawal and dampening of interest among the artists especially among those who acquire some recognition. This may be the result of faulty policies or retarded thinking of the policy-makers of the Akademy. Triannale, our Internatinal Art Exhibition did arouse interest among the people in general and artists in particular in the country and with the course of time in the successive Triannales, the number of the participant countries increased.

These exhibitions, under one roof, gave to our artists a wider spectrum of the contemporary Global Art scene and gave material for thought and also to ponder over the problems, relating to creativity, medium and identity. This also generated countrywide debate on the great regeneration in the field of Folk Art, Handicrafts and Traditional Crafts. The State and Central Government have opened many avenues in these areas. Some State and National level awards were also instituted, which have covered master-craftsmen, practicing their crafts in the country, including villages. Some big shows on the State and National level were organised. Only recently India Festival in U.K. was organised on a large scale, where various arts and crafts formed a significant part of the festival. This gave a big boost to these crafts in England.

These exposures, which have weakness and strength, need a close scrutiny and deeper analysis so that they can be placed in proper perspective. The study will help us in enriching our insight and broadening our vision. In the course of time, the whole socio-cultural, socio-economical milieu of the country started vibrating. Revival of self-reliance became the essential spiritual element in contemporary India. Thus, a search of identity in all areas became imperative.

Today the world is divided in political terms in three broad categories, ie. capitalist world, the ex-socialist world and the third world. Most countries of the third world have newly emerged from foreign rule. They have rich culture and vibrant traditions in arts and crafts. India falls in the third world. We, in the country, considering the economic, cultural, geographic and anthropological diversities, seem to simultaneously live in many countries together. This can be experienced from the contrast in living situations of the metropolitan cities and remote tribal villages where the inhabitants are still living in the primitive age. It is a unique feature and an experience for the creative people. Though this could provide unlimited possibilities in creativity to the contemporary artist, at the same time it is so complex and difficult that it requires extraordinary perception to carve out a clear expression. This is a real exchange. It is this area where creative thinking and sensitivity are necessary to plan out the approach in such a complex situation, which directly concerns visual art. This may appear, to some baffling, but it can regenerate confidence and better perception of new realities.

The above mentioned situation has a direct relation with the professional art education which requires restructuring. We have a tradition. In fact, we seem to be living in different traditions, periods of history and also at the level of what is termed as contemporary – which have their dynamics both on the physical and non-physical levels. As stated above, we have had two hundred years of varying systems of art education. This creates a challenge to any art-educationist. It is a well accepted fact that if we have to prepare students, we have to train them in such a manner so that they may imbibe the spirit of adventure to meet future challenges that will be thrown up by the new technological culture and not only in contemporary art but in other art forms like advertising, graphics, pottery, industrial, textile, weaving, etc.

 

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