When viewers decide

by Vaishnavi Warrier

“The best art is political and you ought to be able to make it
unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same
– Toni Morrison.

When one brings out the statement that all art is political, they
usually refer to the social and political conditions the art was
created in- every piece of art has elements which reveal a
particular instance of their specific circumstances. A very simple
example of the same can be the Mona Lisa. If we give our
attention to the way she is dressed and the kind of colour scheme
or the colour palette for the painting, it highlights the fact that the
creation was a product of its times, where women were shown to
present themselves in a particular way, and obviously, bringing
out the male gaze.

Morrison also said, “All good art is political; the ones that try hard
not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo’”.
So as all big statements always have their respective counterpoints
the “all art is not political” side to the debate came out as well.
And as the name suggests, it talks about how dimensions like the
political or social aspect need not be brought in every time a piece
of art is created or talked about. Sometimes, all the artist wants to
do is make something simple, without thinking of whether
“patriarchal perceptions of beauty affect the painting”.

Now, people may have their votes as to which side of the debate
they choose to support, and neither of them are necessarily wrong
or right. The theory of Post Modernism can be brought in into this
context as well. Post Modernism postulates that there is no “one

truth” or one form of truth. What is in accordance with reality for
a certain individual may not necessarily be so for another. What
one believes in is because of the circumstances they are put into
and the experiences one has had. Their way of looking at life will
not be wrong from another, just different.

However, now that the political/social ideology of Post
Modernism has been brought up, a larger, macro-political
dimension has provided this debate with a new lens to look from.
Maybe all art is political, after all?

As with everything, it is for the viewer to decide.

Image Credits : political-art-picasso-guernica

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