Artologue

Artist couple JEY SUSHIL and MEENAKSHI JHA have literally embarked on a journey of art. Meenakshi writes about her experience

My father’s worst nightmare came true when I handed him my PhD admission offer letter from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London) and declared that I was quitting academic line to pursue art. In no time, me and my partner in life and art, literally embarked on the journey of art: ‘Artologue’.

When I got married to Jey Sushil, there was nothing common between us but love for art and travelling. We, two very different people, began to live together and defined our world through colours. Colours and artistic issues bound us together and we began to miss on the differences between us. We often indulged in painting, creating installation works and what is usually called creative writings.

On one banal day of hectic life I sighed “How wonderful it would be if we get to travel the whole world and paint at different places with different people?” It sounded like a fantastic euphoric dream. We moved on to face yet another day of life. But somehow the idea stayed with us. For me giving up on the promising and comfortable academic line was as tough as managing a pressure job of journalist in a prestigious institute like BBC for Jey. However, with every passing day the idea of ‘travelling artists’ project grew bigger and bigger. Our days use to begun with this topic and ended on the very same topic.

We began to discuss our idea with friends and started inviting them to our home for painting sessions. Our friend circle consists of people from age group of four to sixty. Initially our friends enjoyed watching us paint on the walls, but it is extremely difficult to resist the urge of playing with colours. In less than three months, we had had six such artistic sessions with our extended family/friends. The result was remarkable. These people, who apparently had no idea what-so-ever about art, began to read art books, visit our home-cum-studio more frequently and talked to us more and more about art. They often enquired about next upcoming art sessions at our home/studio.

The idea of ‘Travelogue’ took a proper shape over months of such experiments in Delhi. Soon we were travelling to different parts of India to paint with different families. Our every experiment of engaging people with art enriched our knowledge about practice of art and its impact. Our idea behind the ‘Travelogue’ has personal as well as social aspect. While it is the best way to pursue both our interests of travelling and creating art, it is also intended to help people connect to art. 

Art is perceived differently by people from different set ups. While people with artistic bent of mind, that forms a small section of our society, relate to art with ease, the larger percentage formed by common people feel a sense of alienation. 

The spatial and temporal distance between art-ists and the common people causes a mental gorge between them. The mass consider Art as a special thing meant for special people with special understanding.  Only the proximity and familiarity with colours and the process involved in the creation of art-work can fill this gap. At every station of our ‘Travelogue’, we encourage friends to touch colours, dilute them, mix them and create a shade of colour of their choice. In no time they begin to play with colours like young children. 

The fear of spoiling an art work or creating a bad work is the greatest hurdle that prelude people to befriend art. In our all experiments with these common people, we continuously stressed on the idea that creating art is a process; a process of discovering oneself. One must get rid of the conflicting notions of good and bad. An art work could be good for one and at the same time bad for another viewer. As they overcame the fear of being judged by others, their mental hurdles were gone and they painted with childlike imagination.

Colours are not meant only for fun and creative activities. It is one of the best ways to get back one’s composure and confidence. In the early years of our marital life, due to numerous differences, we often got into conflict and hence stressful moments. We devised the best way to overcome the stress; that was by throwing loads of colours on pages, walls, and bed-sheets. Smudging and mixing colours with our hands, tearing the coloured sheets and sticking all that we wished to stick on the surface became our stress busting activity. In retrospect we realize that we have been successfully practicing ‘Art Therapy’.

Besides individual art therapy, we occasionally indulged in group Art Therapy. Being two different people, we often came up with different visions of same issues. Thus we began to paint different versions of an idea on the same page and the results were unexpected. A third person could not figure out that those works were done by one person or two. Just as colours, members of a family/ friend circle are different. Like colours, different members of these units complement and contrast each other, consequently individualize each other. During our art sessions, we often invited people of different temperaments to work on the same surface/base. It was interesting to see the differences and similarity between the colours used, the patterns drawn and the stroked they wielded. With such experiments in our art sessions we realized that people with several differences can also find a common ground.

Although these are some of the common positive outcomes from our experiments with colours, there might be many more that we have not yet figured out. In future we will continue to share some of the most enlightening experiences on our blog page http://artologue.wordpress.com. We are open all year round for invitations from fellows who fear and at the same time fancy colours/art. Rest could be sorted out on telephone conversations on 09717077167 & 09811017463 and via email on meejha@gmail.com.