Web         Gaudiya Discussions
Gaudiya Discussions Archive » OTHER TOPICS
The ultimate nowhere-land. Whatever doesn't seem to fit in any of the other categories, post it in here. For example, discussions on Mahatma Gandhi and the latest news on CNN should go here.

Aesthetics in Art - 2D versus 3D media

Mina - Sat, 19 Feb 2005 05:27:59 +0530
Since someone already brought up this subject, I deemed it appropriate to explore it a little further. I don't know how many people here have had any formal training in the visual arts. I myself have had some limited education in that field, so I am somewhat qualified to comment thereon.

I like to make comparisons between Western art and Indian religious art and judge the works according to certain criteria that any self-respecting art critic (an oxymoron perhaps?) would apply. The medium in which Indian artists over the past several centuries have excelled has been sculpture in stone. Where they do not have much skill, on the other hand, is in painting on flat surfaces - with a few exceptions such as some of the 17th Century miniatures from Rajasthan. One of my oil painting teachers once pointed out that it is far easier to create a work in three dimensions in media such as clay or marble than it is to create the illusion of three dimenions on a two dimensional surface. Perhaps some of you have noticed that paintings by European masters hanging in museums are actually much more realistic than even the best quality photographic prints. They employed certain tricks that actually distort surfaces, such as showing angles that would normally be invisible in the real world, and the brain accepts them without us noticing those aberrations.

Some of the basics of perspective that any first year art student in college is required to master are sorely lacking in most Indian paintings. That demonstrates a rank amateur level of skill, if not a total lack of observation on their part. Some may argue that this is deliberate on their part, but I do not really think so. I think they are just unaware of how to render a three dimensional object accurately in two dimensions. If you look at more recent and contemporary paintings from India, you will detect the influence of Western art on some of the artists, who in fact have some mastery of perspective.

European masters had very in-depth knowledge of human anatomy. They would usually have their students spend thousands of hours learning to draw each bone of the human skeleton from various angles, in order to prepare them for their craft. I am sure most are aware that many of them risked persecution by the Inquisition in their grave robbing in order to acquire cadavers for their anatomical research. Today we take the use of human cadavers in medical schools for granted and would not consider them professional without the use of them.