Pride & Paranoia
Intelectual Property, Copyright Laws, Privacy & Personal Space and all such... @#!$%!!
On the social media... I saw this very agitated discussion among some Western artists about some simple hearted Asian tourists taking pictures of Artists en plein air....
(artists/paintings being photographed by onlookers while working en plein air etc.)
I was amused and hurt...
Is this about our 'king size ego', that some of us carry on our heads? This gigantic weight of our art-aptitude-talent on our slender shoulders?
Or is it about privacy, space etc.?
In both cases I have divergent views.
The idea of Chinese/Indonesian or Taiwanese "tourist" travelling thousands of miles to Europe or America then tracing down "artists" painting outdoors and shooting their works... mind you these aren’t even finished!! Taking these back to Asia and making prints and earning huge profits!! Wow!!
Non of us are such great artists that we have to guard our works from anyone!! And anyway the Chinese* have great artists in their country with a rich tradition of painting!! All the great arts of the world are free for all of us to see, download.. get high quality prints or we get them in posters or coffee-table books etc.
If we do get admires etc. when we work outdoors (I would count myself lucky and blessed) we should be gracious and let them take pictures of our works etc... non of us are so great and grand that we need to worry... the ones who do; should paint in padlocked basements.. and never show their works to anyone free except those who buy tickets and are searched thoroughly for any electronic devices.. just in case their precious, priceless work of art lands in “those Chinese hands”!!
I have seen many such “great” artists on the Internet and on Facebook.. who would put a big 'copyright © water-mark' on their works!! Thus making their already ugly, amateurish works more unbearable!! My suggestion to them.. this is a visual medium.. and if you don’t want us to see.. use padlocks, high security set-ups and tickets as suggested earlier!!
Don’t think so highly of your work.. be humble...as we in the Orient always say.. “it is all God's gift.. nothing is mine..” that’s why many of us don’t even sign our works unlike in the West!!
If Mona Lisa, Sunflowers (Van Gogh), Lilies (Monet) and the great Oriental Artists' works are all available freely (for viewing, downloading etc.); we should not be so petty!! Remember we all have the right to view art free...we pay only when we buy.. or have to visits a museum.. some Museum are also free and some have certain days kept free for viewing etc. Many museums allow cameras too...
If someone does 'copy' our works.. it is a great compliment!! All Masters' are copied and one great artist copy another great artists' work.. or bases their work on other artist's work.. it has been done by artists since ages.. I do it all the time.
The Unknown Artist
When I got out of art college (early 1990) I use to sign my paintings in front, lower corner as just 'Roy'... paintings of that time 1986-92 would have this... then an Art College Professor pointed out "If you want to make a name etc. sign your full name, there are so many Roys around etc!!" I then started using my full signature ie 'Animesh Roy'... Post 1992-3 works would have my full name in front.
But I grew disillusioned by this urgent need to be recognised by our signature alone... and as I became aware and studied more of our traditions in Indian (and the oriental) art and culture I realised that in our traditional arts our artists do not sign at all... they remain humble, anonymous and would attribute all their skills and talent to Nature or God and their art as an act of devotion etc!! I have been inspired by this concept since then... and have stopped signing my name in front but I do sign (full name) all my paintings at the back/on the reverse side (for the record etc.)
There are some contemporary artists who do not sign in front..over their painting. But I haven't met one yet. I am not against it but I see so many paintings spoilt by an ugly signature!! There are some who have used it very aesthetically like Claude Monet.. and some like van Gogh's are terrible!! Thankfully many of his works don't have his signatures!! Mine have been more of a protest.. while all rushed in with their 'style and signature' to earn name and fame... I wanted only my work to speak up.. and would boast: "In museums they put small plaques along side.. next to every work with all details..and there the art enthusiasts can see!!
I do get very surprised collectors.. who wonder why they don't see any signatures on my work?! Some walk away, some are very uncomfortable to invest.. on an artist without a name!!
"An artist needn't be a clergyman or a churchwarden,
but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men."
― Vincent Van Gogh
"I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."
― Vincent Van Gogh
* Some 'Painters/Artists' were getting paranoid with Chinese tourists photographing their works etc. with the assumption that these tourists have actually have been sent to shoot pictures of plein-air artists' works and go back and make prints on a commercial scale etc.!! and thus make millions off their genius!!
Grand dad of Henri Cartier-Bresson!!
Here's one more anecdote...
Another incident came to my notice on one of these social networking sites, Facebook. Tragic-comic!!
Due to simplification in this digital age everyone now has a camera... They are cheap and no more cost of films, developing and printing charges!!
Also the cameras are now much simpler to use. Any dummy can shoot. So we have these multitudes of photographers and photographs on these social networking sites!! They upload... get many 'likes' and slowly many turn into this ego centric artiste!! Grand dad of Henri Cartier-Bresson!!
One such 'Bresson'.. though I know he has never heard of Henri Cartier-Bresson... who happens to live in one of India's most 'photogenic' places... turned to taking pictures!!
Armed with a professional expensive digital camera he started shooting his city.
Anyone staying in such a place could almost effortlessly capture beautiful scenes, he of course couldn't!! But still his pictures would appears out-of-this-world to foreigner, outsiders...to people who live in a different world. It is indeed a quaint place. So this 'artiste' started to get many 'likes' and slowly he was now a 'wel-known photographer'!! Looking at his work anyone could see he had no idea of colour, composition or any sense or sensibility! It may sound cruel but then in art one cant be accommodating!!
Anyway after some years of 'fame' on Facebook, he recently, grandly announced his retirement!! He told his 'fans' is going to stop uploading his daily pictures!!
The step is most distressing to him but he has no choice as his works are getting out of hand..!! He has no patient or time to put copyright/ water marks over his 'work'! etc'
I don't know the exact reasons... maybe he doesn't want anyone sharing his pictures (?) or thinks people are downloading and printing them in 'coffee-table' books or making prints/posters and earning millions from his art!!
Picture of a Goat or something
Here's one more...
On Facebook some year back I witness this...
There was this pack of mongrels (young-educated-Indians) some 50 or more... viciously attacking a retired Indian air force officer... a Wing Commander!! His crime? "Content theft*"!! For a website he runs for his travel website!! Some picture of a goat or something!! There were abuse and insult, ridicule and trash talk for him... from boys young enough to be his grandsons... A generation growing up on an education (Borrowed and Copied)) which teaches them their 'intelectual property', 'copyright laws', privacy and 'personal space' and all such nonsense but no real wisdom!!A young generation aping ideas and ethos (Western?) without a humane touch...There is no respect for our Defence personnel.. What-so-ever!!Can a nation like this ever be great?!!*He may have inadvertently put or "shared" without giving credits..I know how a 'retired air force fighter pilot' lives... Hand to mouth!!