Interpretation of an Art Work

Before writing this post I should have interviewed or rather I should say interacted with an artist. But then I thought, rather than irking a soul, especially an artistic one, I should first compose the question. And since compositions are meant to be shared, I am here with my text, though after a long gap, as is usually the case at this blog. Nevertheless, I must defend my “non defendable self” by saying…..(its too private, I can’t share it; its too long, you won’t enjoy it; its too boring for your intelligence)….so let’s chuck it.

Back to the question, I wanted to ask the artist. Actually, I should first announce my personal feeling about it.




May be, I am taking too long to articulate the question. But just like I myself am intimidated by the question, I fear my reader might as well shrink after hearing it. This is not to butter-ify my reader,but I must say that I am dealing with a reader who revels in the distance from facts. Actually we should all revel in the distance from facts, for there is my truth, your truth and the truth, AND FACTS DO NOT FIT EITHER OF THEM. Anyways, my apologies to the factual “selves”.

Convolutions are mostly or I must say always intentional. Do attempt to decipher out the convolution the writer of this post has been trying to construct hitherto. Ok! now allow me to solve one for you.

So, my personal feeling about the question, “what is your art work about?, please explain it”, is that this question should either be properly constructed in a “convolutionary” way or it should not be asked.

In convolutions lie “precious-ity”; they can be depth-less or depth-full; it is in this game that the pleasure lies.

The questioner can shower respects to the artist’s effort by properly constructing the question. Just like, John Ciardi says one should not ask, “what does a poem mean?”, rather, “how does a poem mean?”, one should not attempt a reductive and direct question: “what does your art work mean?” It is almost as if the questioner is saying, “I have my antennas rusted, can I borrow yours for interpretation of your art work?”

The art work always mean different things. And it should mean different things. It is in its multiplicity that its aesthetics lie. Art work is a foundling after it is released from the artist’s mind and soul on to the canvas. True that, one must respect the history and personal life of the author which produced that art work but then one must also respect the fact that history and personal life come into being from a complex matrix of multitude of interpretations in author’s mind. One ought respect that multitudinal matrix by constructing the question in a proper way. One ought respect this foundling. Breathing in conventions needed for its  aesthetic survival, it remains for the large part of its life free from “the facts”; free from the conventions which want fast answers.

Whenever somebody asks this question directly about an art work, it irks me deeply. Though I have attempted to jot down the reasons, I am still not very sure about the causes of this ache. May be some of you share it or some of you do not. The question is open to both categories of readers and also to those who do not belong to either of them.

The question precisely is, “whether it is apt to directly ask the artist, what does your art work mean? and whether, “meaning is the only end, an art work’s interpretation should strive for?”


5 thoughts on “Interpretation of an Art Work

  1. Nice piece. As much as I like the article, I should also mention that abstract-ness also has roots in science and science in turn is an art piece. Addressing the question, in my opinion, one should not get irked upon the bluntness of reader and rather convey that what abstractness of art means and ask the reader that what is his/her interpretation.

    • But does not somebody’s bluntness conveyed in his question also conveys how he is not taking into consideration the entire intensity of the art work? If he would have considered its intensity and complexity, do not you think that the question asked would have had equal complexity?

  2. Yes, that is true that reader should give a deep thought before asking if he/she knows what abstract and art is. Most of the time it might happen that reader is not aware of this and can ask bluntly and I think it is artist’s responsibility to make the reader aware of the abstract and then ask for his/her interpretation. For example, if teacher says students that don’t ask me stupid questions before the start of the class, it might happen that most of the students leave the class without learning anything. Same as above, we should always try to explain the ‘concept’ and then ask reader what you think about it.

  3. I feel that asking this question may help a naive/ uninitiated audience to understand the intricacy of the art piece and sometimes possibly it may leave a soul inspired.It may well be his/her first step towards learning to appreciate art. However, an art connoisseur may either never ask this question or may ask a variant of this question to quench his/her thirst of knowing the authors’ interpretation (much like why you chose to ask this question).This blog also works with the assumption that this question will irk the author. I feel that sometimes the author may want to express and share his/her thoughts on the subject.

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