Repressive Behaviour

Posted in Adele Todd by Adele Todd on October 21, 2007

Every few days I speak with a dear friend in Trinidad. We get up to so many thoughts that it seems like a world wind of words, but always, we end with something that causes us to think on a matter until the next time. The other day it was about Indian Art. The art works of India are very diverse, and that isn’t even contemporary Indian art that I am talking about. I have several books on the topic of art and craft of India, and as one put it, Art is Worship.

In my research of Indian miniatures and erotic works, I have always found that the subject matter has always lent itself to a great deal of scope. I have seen the court life, the countryside, violence, religion, death and rebirth. Gods and monsters, food, festivals and marriage.

When I was on the big River workshop, I toyed with the idea of using the technique of Indian miniature for aspects of life in Trinidad and Tobago. I did a number of watercolour sketches before abandoning the idea. I found that it was too contrived. I also did not want one style or another style to overwhelm the idea. What I ended up doing was working as I presently am, in strawboard.

It was this talk that led us to views on erotic Indian art. My friend and I were looking at the Indian artists of Trinidad, alive and dead, Dr. James Isaaih Boodhoo, Shashtri Maharaj, the Singh Brothers, Shalini Seereeram, and Wendy Nanan to name a few. (To be fair, and clear, these artists do not go out of their way to make erotic works.) Placed side by side, these artists bring much experience to the proverbial table. They represent to me, the best Indo Trinbagonian works we have seen.
We wondered and questioned their themes.

We found that for many of these people, their early careers were filled with much experimentation and even risk taking. Mr. Maharaj looked at his unusual family life, Wendy Nanan worked with papier mache shapes.
The art market in Trinidad is both fickle and fixed. It seems that those who move a smidge from centre are quickly snapped back by the demands of making a living.

We found that the art of India manages to be exciting and electric, even ancient works, and we found that our society has made our artists unable to fully realise themselves.

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