For many, four years of training in the visual arts at an art institute, are spent as if being inside a dream; in which – like every other dream, all fantasies come true. But once that period ends, the reality takes over and in some cases, introduces the bitter taste of existence along with the struggle to survive as a successful artist.
The transition from the Eden like atmosphere of protective environment with supporting faculty, friendly companions, large work spaces, and comfort of student life – to the world of competition, cruelty and compromises is often painful for a majority of idealistic graduates, yet a number of individuals take and treat the difficulties of professional world to bea challenge that should be dealt with, and the excuse to prove their abilities, activities and ideas.
Even if one extensively studies the history of art and the lives of artists, along with the socio-economic and politico-religious conditions of various periods and societies, yet the formula to become a successful artist – a star, remains a secret. Severalspeculations can be collected on this phenomenon that changes a young graduate into a celebrity within weeks, or even a failure into a major artist of his times (for example Gavin Turk, who failed his MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1991 is now regarded a leading contemporary artist today). Or on the other hand a student passing with flying coloursis soon lost in the mist of oblivion (as in the same year, Turk’s class fellow Ben Panting obtained distinction but did not survive as artist!).
So does the success depend upon an individual’s imagination, ideas, skill, hard work, contacts, good fortune, subversive nature, or careful marketing? Or other factors, such as changing fashions/taste in art, art galleries, critics, collectors and contemporaries play a pivotal part in elevating a young beginner into an important artist. Is the work guaranty of success, or the factors outside studio are responsible for bringing luck?
Questions like these and others can only be asked, since no one is able to offer absolute answers and ultimate solutions. Hence the attraction of art.In the present issueArt Now Pakistan investigates these points, which concern not only makers, but historians and connoisseurs of art also. Both Zarmeene Shah and ShahanaRajaniin their essays examine the process of art making – rather of artist making; and provide context to this transformation. Same subject is approached by Ameen J, but not only his medium of photo-essay is different, his angle also presents a new interpretation of the theme.
In the January issue the profile of RasheedAraeen introduces a personal narrative into this discourse; since the celebrated artist of our times, with multiple exhibitions at important venues around the world – was not trained from an art school. Focus on his life and art is significant to understand the structure of art world, because Araeenhas been involved in challenging the system with its Eurocentric tilt. In the Profile section, the conversation with AmbereenKaramat highlights how an art organization, such as the ‘White Turban’ serves as a bridge between recent graduates and the eager market and help individual artists to shape their careers.
But artists, especially in our midst, are not detached or delinked from institutions (many still teach at these schools), so the history of an art institute is also important to comprehend the course of making an artist. AmnaHussain reviews A Journey of Resilience and Success (1940-2013), the recently published book on the past of ‘College of Art and Design, The University of the Punjab’. Other regular reviews and news bring together the same discussion to another level, as in the world of visual arts there is no singular method of success, because here hundred flowers bloom in hundred different schemes and in hundred different scents.