I would hesitate to speak of art in-general because I have a horror of laying down principles for others to follow. For myself I believe that since I live in an environment which takes account of me, I cannot very well ignore it. Environment is one of those words which covers just about everything, from the stray pigs in my pocket handkerchief garden, loud mouthed neighbors, the amplified hymns and chants, the “Tea” bands playing 'Colonel Bogey" during the marriage season, the brick layers and builders who have been building houses and monuments for ages without having any of their own, to the daily newspapers and magazines which seem to be windows into the lives of our Nation builders. Frankly my day begins with gloom as I scan through the daily paper. Even the tailpiece of the middles can't wipe away the gloom which the rest has already shed. I am cynically amused at the same kind of photograph which appears on the front page each morning. The dramatis personal change from time to time but the utterances are all the same. l sometimes wonder if they don't get bored themselves apparently not, because they go on and on talking about peace and tension and war and task forces for the eradication of poverty and how these elected representatives are doing all this in the name of the Common Man. They particularly love “Democracy” a system through which they seem to have come to stay. And it amuses me to see that this much photographed tribe seems to sit, smile, look serious, look grim, all in the same way. A kind of club with norms of its own and an anxiety not to lose its membership. We were all eager watchers of the three-act drama recently which ended happily for all concerned, peace has been assured through the diligence and hard work of a few bureaucrats, the far sightedness of the three great leaders of this sub-continent. How is it that just a handful of people can sign a few documents and make peace on behalf of millions of people, yet when it comes to war and the ugly possibility of dying, these very people are absent and are in fact busy making millions of people massacre each other in the glory of some abstract principle? So - I am politically naive, don't understand international relations or political principles - I’d rather remain so, thank you rather than lose my long nose for hypocrisy (political expediency) and I'd rather not see the sense of the club and seek its justifications far less trying to join it.
With such thoughts which greet me each day, I find it difficult to paint abstract landscapes anymore, nor even the sensuous nudes whom I loved (as did the patrons of art). My brush has turned away from the angles and I have been painting conferences - these battle grounds for peace. This change has changed my painting too, because I am forced to forge visual metaphors which must relate closely to what I feel. The mere choice of subject matter is not enough to make a good painting, nor do I believe that a style should be capable of swallowing any subject matter with pythonic ease. The subject matter reveals itself and becomes particular. The metaphor in painting is not the same as in literature. In one of my “Game” paintings I intended to show the incommunicable gap between the negotiators, so that the table became the great divider and occupied a large part of the canvas. Similarly, in the same painting I was anxious that the onlooker should be kept “outside” since the discussions in the painting are of a secret nature and the club members want to keep to themselves anyway so there is no one in the painting who will even glance at you, and your gaze is, returned by a black mastiff which is poised at one end of the canvas. He is the "Guardian of unalterable law". Several artists use geometrical laws to determine the areas of their paintings looking in their minds in the platonic concept about the absolute values of universal harmonies and proportions, I believe that the subject matter chosen and the metaphors coined can and should determine the various displacements and it is the degree of success with which this is done that determines the success or failure of a canvas. Too often people will reject a work because of its subject matter and there are those who will accept it for the same reason and to my mind both kinds have missed the point.
Your next question is logical enough - who buys my paintings? Since I rarely sell directly I don’t quite know all the people who have my paintings. I can tell you something amusing - and sad which recently happened to one of my paintings. It was one of a conference of military top brass sorting out the world’s problems and ready to impose their solution quite oblivious of the carcass under their jack boots (These boots ensure a complete lack of feeling and sensation, they seal you in) Well, it was exhibited and bought by a government agency with the splendid idea of making a gift of it to another nation. Then, for some reason, best known to them, the painting wasn't sent and to my amazement it has been stored along with other obsolete furniture in the godown. The moral is that my moral is to be kept in dark vaults.
When I casually asked why the painting wasn't put up on one of the spacious walls of the building, I was given the answer that there is no space. I looked around and sure enough the space was occupied by photographs of National leaders laid there was no room for my painting. I can only suppose that had my painting been actually sent as a nation's gift to another nation, it might well have-found its way into the receiving nation's godown! I But fortunately this doesn't always happen and there are people who will buy and look at paintings which don't flatter them.