In the mistaken effort to become more 'civilized', and 'culturally advanced' man tried to classify everything into various groups and categories, and in doing so he lost sight of the entirety. Like the blind men feeling the different parts of the elephant, he could see only one part of the whole at a time. It happened to all art forms. Man divided it into music, singing, painting, dance, and literature and he forgot they were all one form.
Thus it was a wonderful experience to see the various art forms merging into one great masterpiece, one evening at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Several artistes worked as one human entity to present to us a wonderful creation which was a blend of music, song, dance and painting. It was one of the major events at Karigar Haat 2013, the festival of traditional art and culture from all over India and beyond, organized by AIM (Art Illuminates Mankind).
It was Saori Kanda who painted as she danced to the music and songs with Kariyusi folk fusion band and Miya, the jazz flute player.
Deprivation is often a blessing for an artiste. Saori was living in Baghdad, during the Iran war when she was just 2 years old. Because she did not have any Japanese toys to play with, "my only way of playing was drawing on back of used papers". She also had said at an interview that "music triggered me to pursue live painting". She has become a child of Mother Earth, because she was exposed to the world around her, not only where she was born, but in the Middle East and then later in her travels to many other countries.
There have been painters who created art from music. And musicians who created music from paintings. Franco Falsini (Sensations' Fix) brought out 'Music is Painting in the Air', in the late 60s. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony has been transformed into a painting 110 years ago by Gustav Klimt, and the Moonlight Sonata by Adonis Poitras, more recently.
Yehudi Menuhin called Norman Perryman "A musician who makes music with his paintbrush", and Perryman is planning to paint Alexander Scriabin's 'Prometheus: Poem of Fire' into a kinetic visual at a live concert on January 25th in Brussels. The Lithuanian artist/musician Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis painted the Sonata of the Sun in 1907 and continued to paint five more Sonatas, and these pictorial sonatas were cited as examples of Synesthesia, a term introduced to explain the marriage of music and art, which Wagner had called 'Total Artwork'.
A 'kinetic visual' sounds more technical than artistic, like the digital transformation of music into art, which gives us an 'abstract' colour pattern which no one could understand, and there is no feeling in it. They cannot be considered as paintings or music compositions. Computers and digital technology would never be able to acquire synesthesia.
True and near total synesthesia we saw in our own Mahagama Sekara, who left us thirty seven years ago this month. He brought his music into his paintings, into his poems and his poems into his novel and later into his film, who wanted to paint the music of the universe into one huge canvas.
In Saori Kanda's performance we also meet a true synesthete who becomes one with the music and the song and with the audience. Her hand moves as if on its own, transforming the empty canvas into a work of art, a painting which keeps ringing in our ears long after the music has stopped. The visual art she created has merged into one with the aural art created by her team, and would last in our memories for a long long time.
The art was also truly peaceful and thus useful for mankind. It confirms how Art Illuminates Mankind. After watching the performance of the Japanese artistes, as we walked around looking at the handicrafts and the artistic creations displayed at the Karigar Haat festival, we could understand and appreciate them better. We could empathize with the artisan and his creation and share his joy as he created a masterpiece out of a piece of wood or moulded it from clay.
Karigar Haat is a cultural festival of all traditional art forms. Traditional art and culture have always been a part of nature. There was no conflict between nature and culture in our traditional villages, and we could still see it here gathered at the Salt Lake Stadium. It all blended with the evenings of Baul and Sufi music, with love and many-splendoured bonds of the heart, subtly revealing the mystery of life, and love of humanity. There was also the Qawwali, traditional islamic songs of India and Pakistan, and the Kabirbhajans. Kabir was the first Indian saint to have harmonised Hindu, Islam and Sikh doctrines by preaching a universal path with his mystical and devotional poetry. There was the Wayee style of song created by Shah Abdul Latif Bhital in the 17th century, based on sensual and divine love.
The folk dances were from all over India, or should we still call this land Bharatvarsha, even though today the land is politically divided into many different countries. Here at Karigar Haat they were all of one land and one people, with love for all humanity expressed in their various forms of artistic creations. They were the true Sahrda and true Rasika.
Let us learn from them, to retain and preserve our own traditional arts and culture and to introduce them to our younger generation, to illuminate their lives and to produce peaceful and useful citizens of the world. We too have our own Karigar Haat, which we call Kala Pola, which could be developed to provide more encouragement to our own Karigars.