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Are you making any money? If not, do something else. Why art? Sell potatoes or be a scrap merchant!

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

painting by Saikat Baksi

‘I heard that you have been doing something for a while. How is it going?’ Said the old man, who knew my life for more than past twenty years.

Being habituated with the sneer and disdain this man and many others felt for my passion, I knew immediately what was being referred to.

I took a deep breathe and replied, ‘Going on well.’

The old man remarked with grave concern, ‘Do you make any money out of it? I understand, money is flowing like water!’

I felt a pinch, hard, right on my softest corner – my passion.

I said, ‘Not really. Not earning out of it.’

On second thought, I felt, I might be able to impress upon him by mentioning something that is easy to appreciate. I added, ‘Newspapers are writing about it.’

He knew all about the news reports that appeared in recent months. Several indeed. I thought that the reference of such reports might help him respect my mission.

But hell! No! He raised a superior pair of tired eyes and asked, ‘Where on earth do you see these damned newspapers?’

I was speechless. I mumbled, ‘Midday, Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle…’

He shook his head in despair. ‘Not Times of India…right?’

I cut a sorry figure. ‘No!’

It is about ROMARTIKA. And I am the founder of ROMARTIKA.

I founded Romartika, not in the capacity of an artist but as an art lover half a decade ago.

It all happened after the comment of a chap in one of those nameless exhibitions in Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai. That was the first group show I participated. Those five days made me realize many things about the whole affair of art in our country. This chap who was displaying some remix versions of Raja’s paintings on his own canvas claiming them to be original out of his own brush, happened to sell one piece for Rs 10000. He was ecstatic and beaming in confidence. He came to my booth and moved around with a critical expression of a connoisseur (thanks to his newfound conviction due to the sell of the reproduction of Raja’s painting). He looked at me and said, ‘Listen, you need many more years to become an artist.’

I asked, ‘Why?’

He observed, ‘You need to develop a style. You must fall in line with one of the genres in place. Abstract, or geometric or realistic or…any other type classified in the tradition. Only then you will be an artist.’

At that point, I was not sure how to react. It was not the question of the goodness of my own paintings. The real question was about aligning with one of the existing styles. If such alignment qualified the claim of an artist to be an artist, then nothing new could ever happen. And to top it all, a style is an identity. And identity is ego. And ego is prison. An artist is not an artist anymore, when he or she is confined within the walls of ego.

But that is the way the world measures the novelty of art.

That is when I thought of this idea of Romartika, to open some window, however small, for art to escape through. Art must shed the fetters of convention imposed by the flag bearers of protocols.

But you can see the challenge I face from all quarters. It is as terrible as the challenges faced by the artists themselves. Close associates do question the usefulness of the very act of passion after converting the whole affair into some numbers – money. If there is not much of RETURN ON INVESTMENT, one must not paint but rather put up a grocery store round the corner. There is a need of potatoes and brinjals and onions in the area. After all, who needs paintings anyway? Of course, I missed something out. Why not mutual funds if you are sophisticated and potatoes are below your dignity? Or in today’s context, if you are techno-savvy, bitcoin is a good choice.

The same old man asked me in another instant, ‘What are these meetings for? Do you hold such meetings regularly? For what?’

In this case too, I knew he referred to the webinars on art. I said, ‘Yes, we do often.’

He considered the answer and then asked, ‘Does anybody attend such kind of meetings?’

I decided to put any further inquisition to rest. I said, ‘No. Nobody comes.’

He nodded in sympathy for my folly of indulging in this useless pursuance of childly fun of drawing (These people understand the word, drawing, not painting, let alone art. Art is for much higher faculty anyway). He hoped silently that I would stop wasting time or money for this nonsense, soon enough.

But you see, I have crossed more than half a life chasing art and literature. I have been grilled by the vagaries of life because I did so. But still I did. I guess, I am incorrigible. Nothing can deter my passion. No amount of sarcasm, sneer or humiliation. The old man and many others will not see success in their lifetime.

Saikat Baksi

So, I think, I could convey to all of you that we as artists or art lovers shall move forward breaking new frontiers one after the other, not by the power of money, but by the spirit of passion. The blinding rage of passion is much more ferocious and wilder than a thick wallet.

And yes, be assured that the wallet too has its own ways. It is fiercely independent. Try filling it up, it will drain everything out and emptiness will be a perpetual resident. But drive your passion by forgetting the wallet, you will find that the wallet is swelling up on its own.

So, let’s not pay attention to all the forces pulling us behind. Let us move ahead.

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Bill Martin
Bill Martin
Apr 12, 2023

If you want to sell your old junk car at good price, always choose Junk Cars Hollywood specialists because they buy all type of scrap for recycling. Moreover, they lift your vehicle from their clients spot.


Mimamsa Myriad
Mimamsa Myriad
Oct 10, 2021

Firstly, I want to start by saying that this made my eyes well up. The pain and the struggle of those who choose to fiercely follow their own path in the face of general dissent is timeless. Sadly, many such people have only been posthumously recognized. If you wish to live as a puppet, like a cog in a giant wheel, you live in safety. But those who push against the current are the game changers. Thank you for giving us a platform for displaying our works. Romartika is a respected and celebrated platform amongst artists because of your efforts!!! And please never pay heed to the words of narcissists who need to put others down to feel a little…

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