Two years ago, I was in a bad place, mentally. Life became mundane and grey. I went to Dhaka Art Summit dragging myself from underneath the covers, hoping for an afternoon that would distract me and frankly, give me something to do.
What I got in return was more than I had expected. We’re so engrossed in our own lives, in our own familiar surroundings, that sometimes we lose bearings. The art event with its displays portraying the plights of people from around the globe—from past and present—grounds you and humbles you by reminding you of the colossal scope of human existence amongst which you live a tiny life.
It gave me so much to marvel at. Fine human creation always reminds us of how much we all can achieve if we put our mind to it. Pictures of persecution of indigenous communities on the opposite side of the globe made me stop whining about my own problems and put things into perspective. Travelling across the globe to see the world may be a long-term plan at best but going to an exhibition doesn’t have to be.
I came home feeling refreshed and stimulated but most of all, I felt alive. Art has the power to remind you that there is so much to see, so many places to go, so much to do and above all, so much to live for. “I have seen, have heard, have lived/ In the depth of the known have felt/ The truth that exceeds all knowledge/ Which fills my heart with wonder and I sing,” is how Tagore expressed himself and it seems very fitting here.
However, art can also intimidate people. “I don’t really know much about art,” “I never studied art,” and “I never get what modern art is supposed to be” are very common sentiments among people who feel as though they may be lost or alienated among the artwork.
The truth is one does not need to be an artist to visit an exhibition. There is rarely one specific truth that is the meaning of each artwork and most of what’s on offer is open to interpretation. Even if there is one specific interpretation that was the intention of the artist, who cares if that exactly is not something you figure out? The artist’s job arguably ended with the last stroke of paint on the canvas and what we perceive from that painting is the starting of a perfectly different conversation.
Art, in my belief, is about eliciting a feeling or reaction among people. As long as the colours, textures, patterns or installations remind you of anything, spark a curiosity or change your mood even the slightest bit, you’ve lived a bit more by just walking into an art exhibition.
Mrittika Anan Rahman is a daydreamer trying hard not to run into things while walking. Find her at email@example.com