The Khasi-8 visual arts tradition


This tale came to fruition in the auspicious art event conceived, initiated and organized by the Riti Academy of Visual Arts. The very first Thoh Shun International Art Camp was organized in 2005 with the participation of young artists from some European and Asian countries. The Art Camp had emphasized the perspective of local artists from the North East region of India. In 2007, North East Artists Thoh Shun Art Exhibition was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the support of Indian High Commission in Dhaka, Art Club, Bangladesh and Greater Sylhet Indigenous Peoples Forum . Thohshun Art Camps are held every year in Shillong at different levels depending on the availability of resources.

The condition of the visual arts in its various disciplines has progressed by leaps and bounds through the ages. The advancement of technology has brought about enormous changes in all activities, including the visual arts. The rapid growth and ultimate superiority of digital technology today, where graphic printing and photography have changed the course of aesthetic application and elevated art to a different genre of visual expression. Relatively, sculpture and design have undergone drastic changes with the help of digital technology, and with painting and printmaking there is an evolution in the application of mixed media and installation art. which have developed with outstanding technical skill and splendid intellectual content. However, liberal arts is another aspect that must assess the legitimacy of expression and delivery. The liberal arts welcomed a wide range of intellectual expression usually with academic approval; it is multidisciplinary, but most practitioners tend to dabble in other areas outside of their real expertise. The notion of inclusivity is laudable, but the usual tendency is for the liberal arts to champion the cause of the masses, even if some standard norms are formulated to suit the core group of the institution and society. Among several indulgences, it can be observed that the fascination with the glamor of visual images, especially cinema, has a rigorous impact and involvement of low-performing white-collar artists promoted by the elite. Another mainstream liberal arts outcome that has asserted forced attention in public space is social and political activism through artistic expression. Essentially, the liberal arts could progress and flourish by emphasizing specific professional expertise, where each practitioner could use all the creativity involving various subjects and produce specific effects of personal specialization.

The expertise and technical delivery of any artistic expression is the domain of the individual artist, but the intellectual interpretation of the content must be able to communicate to a wide range of intelligences. When the academic articulation of certain artistic expressions is confined to intellectuals, it becomes a privileged space for communication; however, if artistic expression speaks to a large multitude of people in society, it is a general product of the masses that intellectuals can also digest and explore further academic deliberations. Charlie Chaplin movies, some realistic paintings, and classical music are some of the most apt examples of the description. On the contrary, ordinary people with little interest in the arts and information of society could exercise their freedom and harness their thoughts to stimulate debate and discussion within the cross section of the community. There are examples of highly educated people with limited knowledge of contemporary art, while some ordinary novices could instantly relate to their original instincts about the visual content of any artistic expression. Therefore, it’s not about the privilege of formal education, it’s not about community, it’s not about access to information about the world; it is the inherent ability of an individual person regardless of the surrounding environment. It can be measured by the intellectual ability of urban children relative to their rural counterparts. Generally, urban children are more intelligent than rural children due to the availability of ready-made information from the sophisticated atmosphere of the city; however, rural children are accessible to limited information with a wide field of curiosity and thus generate an enormous amount of creativity, even as knowledge of nature is extensive compared to the amount of information available in the urban atmosphere . Essentially, rural children are endowed with original, pure and creative knowledge, while urban children are bombarded with detailed information from various facilities of the education system and accessibility to civilian amenities, where they lack originality, are vulnerable to contaminated, irrelevant information and confusing knowledge systems imported from abroad.

In the art events held in the different institutions on different occasions of the society, the usual images performed by the urban children are mostly internet images with elaborate application based on tutorials of various cyber platforms. However, children in rural areas struggle with practical knowledge guided or taught by the teacher or tutor with insufficient expertise, which leaves more room for independent exploration and imagination. Moreover, educated urban parents offer their children an expert art teacher, extravagant installations with predetermined ideas and enslave them according to their expectations; while illiterate rural parents left their children to their own devices with limited guidance from teachers and thus enjoyed greater freedom in their individual exploration and expression. Therefore, it is important that children have a balance between proper guidance in the right direction and independent exercises to feed their creative impulse. Parents don’t need to be excited about their children’s performance, and there’s no need to indulge in extra information unless they request it or ask for it. The teacher does not need to teach the children what to do, but rather to guide them on how to do it. The basic techniques of handling tools and media and the basis of some basic rules are enough for them to explore and excel by their own genius. The most harmful formalities and popular activities in art are competition. There should never be an artistic expression competition for children, even if the adult could measure the level of expertise and performance.

There will be a few happy children and several sad children in the competition and so pamper a few and demoralize the whole community for generations. Children’s state of mind should prevail in the real situation with a huge margin of discovery and guide or advise them only if they indulge in negative outings that could harm them and the environment around them . Art cannot be taught, while techniques must be imparted to them so that they can enhance the original creative expression that is intrinsic to their being. It is the law of nature which has prevailed since time immemorial and which has been inherent in society throughout the ages.

Another aspect of artistic expression is the taste of the individual or the community. The individual person will have a wide variation of interest with the specific preference of personal taste. However, the community will have some common interests which might differ from the other community within the same company. Therefore, ancestral ethnicity and traditional religious background are the customary conventions that will influence taste within the community. It is the subjective element in the larger context of society, even if it is objective within the community. Secular elements of artistic expression are only available in contemporary art, regardless of the particular style and techniques applied by the artist. The ethnic image is almost static in its form and content due to traditional practices which are usually tied to ceremonial and customary practices. However, religious images are dynamic and change according to ethnic conventions. Nevertheless, the austere dominant culture will set a sort of standard norm for the particular group of communities following the same religion. The Western system of artistic expression has influenced the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian traditions around the world. The Eastern system of artistic expression has influenced the tradition of Buddhism in the Eastern world, with the exception of the pan-Indian Hindu mythological art tradition and the Arab Islamic art tradition. African artistic tradition is another method, distinct from ethnicity. Within the dominant religion of a particular region, each ethnic race has style variations identical to their cultural tradition. In the tradition of Christian art, Roman art is different from Byzantine art; in Buddhism, Chinese art is different from Japanese art; in the tradition of Hindu mythological art the Dravidian is different from the Aryan, and even among the Aryans the Madhubani of Bihar is different from the art of Bengal, except for the miniature painting of Rajasthan which is influenced by both the Hindu royal dynasty and Mughal Islam. tradition. These are the broad basic categories of the distinct ethnic and religious identities of each artistic expression. Similarly, in the North Eastern region of India, the different ethnic Naga tribes have distinct artistic traditions, the Mizo artistic tradition and the different tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Assam have various traditions ethnic arts. Even the Garo ethnic art is different from the Khasi folk expression because along with the rest of the tribes in the region, they belong to the Tibeto-Burmese race. Interestingly, the Khasi folk tradition is devoid of any dynamic visual artistic expression. It is an oasis of the Monkhmer race surrounded by the Tibeto-Burmese races in the entire North Eastern region of India.

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