Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Question and Answers Fine Arts, Baroda

Views, opinions and responses to the questionnaire about ART, INSTITUTION & LEARNER’S QUERIES received by Shubhadip Bhattacharjee from the following teachers of Fine Arts at the M.S. Universty of Baroda:

Vasudevan A. Reader and In-Charge Head of Painting, the Faculty of Fine Arts

Indrapramit Roy, Lecturer in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts

Jayaram Poduval, Lecturer in Art History, Faculty of Fine Arts

Vijay Bagodi, Lecturer and Head of Printmaking, Fine Arts

Malti Gaekwad, Lecturer, Advertising Design, Faculty of Fine Arts

*Rini Dhumal, Former Professor and Head of Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts

P. D. Dhumal, Reader and Head of Printmaking, and Former Officiating Dean and In Charge Head of Sculpture, Fine Arts

*Dhruva Mistry, Former Professor and Head of Sculpture and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts


B. V. Suresh and Shashidharan Nair, Lecturers in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts declined respond to the questionnaire.

* Rini Dhumal and Dhruva Mistry are artists and former teachers of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

From Prof. Deepak Kannal, Former Head of Art History and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Pratap Mande, Head of Advertising Design, did not respond to the questionnaire.

What does the term "Contemporary Indian art" means to you?

Vasudevan A.: Contemporary refers to present. It is becoming increasingly Global with certain local flavor.

Inrapramit Roy: The word contemporary in all context define not just a time frame as in recent but an attitude. So anything that is recent is not necessarily contemporary.

Jayaram Poduval: the art contemporary means whatever happens in "Present" time. so the word implies all art practices in the present.

Vijay Bagodi: Art that deals with the present – circumstances, events, response to the ciramstances is ‘alike’ – a trend surfaces which can be broadly called Contemporary Indian art.

Malti Gaekwad: something that reflects contemporary or current life and thought in

the larger sense. also i think it would not be conformist.

Rini Dhumal: contemporary is present situation of art in any country. in india contemporary reflects so many facets in life so we find artists working in different languages of art.

P. D. Dhumal: As this term doesn't specify any one kind of art practice, i take this as it means " art that is practiced in contemporary times".

Dhruva Mistry: ‘Contemporary’ means that it belongs to the present time and is occurring in the same period of time. It may refer to ideas of individual, group, communal, social belief, need and practice reflecting a culture of modernity of the time. The artist, through his art contemplates and reflects vision of individual, socio-economic-historical-religious, political, cultural- scientific ideas and concepts of life.

In the Indian context ‘art’ popularly presents tribal/ f/modern/ individual/group/community/socio-cultural-religious or secular visual invocation of ideas/dreams, concepts involving crafts, skills and technology reflecting joy of sustainable human endeavors expressing love for life and nature. The kind and quality of visual expression of life and reflection upon reality range from expressions of conventional, naïve, amateur, upper crust, popular kitsch to erudite intent of aesthetic concern, reflecting alter modern ideas and practice of awareness. The range of visual practices involve tribal, folk, urban, naïve, amateur, trained, semiliterate, literate as well as educated people. The living civilization of India presents human creativity through variety of personal, group, community, views, ways, beliefs and practices of faith, and forms of religions, as personal, public, socio-political-populist expressions of the time reflecting heterodoxies of cultural, conceptual and visual interests.

2. How do you think art practice in the 'art institution' and 'art practice in the commercial galleries’ outside institution differ? If both are the same things in practice kindly highlight your view/ experience.

Vasudevan A. : Art practices in the Art Institution could be / should be more innovative in comparison to commercial Galleries. Galleries operate on current flavors. Institution could support deeper values in Art.

Inrapramit Roy: In an art institution one can follow one's creative pursuit without any other consideration. Naturally in a commercial environment that is not always possible. Having said that, ideally speaking, there should be no difference.

Jayaram Poduval: art practices in "art institution" is primarily pedagogical in nature. the acceptance may not be prime criteria, while in "outside" scenario "acceptance" is the prime criteria.

Vijay Bagodi: One is academic- the other one is commercial

A) Aim-is to make students aware of art, aesthetics etc-ultimately to

enable students to express themselves.

B) Aim-is to make public aware- ultimately to sell and make a profit from art.

Malti Gaekwad: i feel art practice in an art institution has to fundamentally remain

academic even while being explorative.

Rini Dhumal: art practice deals with the teaching of fundamentals of art and art history. commercial galleries portrays the artist works of individuals and either tries to project the artist concern or involved in sales.

P. D. Dhumal: these are two different institution with completely different purpose - art schools train educate upcoming artists to successfully express, their thoughts in visual language, also teach required skills. while galleries reaches out to people and does the business of selling art. undertaking personal experience, unfortunately sometimes influence the artists.

Dhruva Mistry: Aims and intention of art institution and commercial art galleries differ.

The Art school offers students prescribed subjects to train and study various streams of visual arts in Higher Education. The art institutions works to nurture proper study of variety of visual, cultural and historical forms, beliefs and practices suited for various streams of art. Art institution as an establishment is housed in a building or complex of buildings from where an organizational promotion of specialized kinds of arts and is led by proficient people providing impetus, material, resources, equipment and expertise of committed staff.

Interest, aptitude and basic qualification following Higher Secondary allows students the opportunity for prescribed course of study and necessary practical training to consider the subject in detail. Study involves careful consideration of the subject or area of specialization through detailed analysis in order to discover essential features and meaning at length as in a spiritual search and pursuit. Institutions of higher education refer to professionalism of education through study, training and practice of art and science among noncommercial organizations. Professional courses may involve familiarization through studying theory and practice of art, artists, exhibitions, curation, publication, dealers, sale, health and safety Copyright and the art-laws.

Commercial art galleries are part of urban service industry and work for the business of art, artists and work through exhibition, promotion and sales. Commercial dealers provide goods and services involving work of range of artists, through necessary promotion and marketing as a trade. If fair, the business of art and ideas of aesthetics could be sustainable for artists, dealers, buyers and collectors but cannot be banked upon for individual creative success and financial gain.

3. Which/what are the most significant changes to your eye and mind in the Indian contemporary art scene or practice?

Vasudevan A.: Contemporary refers to present. It is becoming increasingly Global with certain local flavor.

Inrapramit Roy: For a long time a major consideration of modern artists in India had been the idea of 'Indianness'-consciously striving to involve some elements of Indian Visual culture consciously-often leading to a blind alley. Since the 80's I see that aspect diminishing in important. By now no one that I know of is consciously trying to make their work look Indian.

Jayaram Poduval: there are many. cannot write on all.

Vijay Bagodi: Too many points:- To varied. Cannot pinpoint as a whole:-

Indian contemporary art arises out of situational and commercial events- not to be generalized. – each place/ artist/ group has its own response

Malti Gaekwad: visual language is changing very much, due to bold and experimental

nature of younger artists as well as means and media available.

Rini Dhumal: today art has become global as in every other field. most artists are speaking a language similar to their counterpart the world over. But what is significant is that in india, a variety of perception still exists in art and culture which is reflected in the arts.

P. D. Dhumal: indian art has become more acceptable internationally. artist are not limiting themselves to indian specific. art galleries are trying to reach out global market. besides the market, this is helping the overall thought process.

Dhruva Mistry: 1990s economic reforms and globalization has affected visual and conceptual attitude of artists. Art as a visual and material commodity seemed increasingly associated with aspiration of popular and financial success supporting and promoting celebrity art and artists until global financial slump of 2008. Indian art, Modern or Contemporary presents variety of styles, media and forms with increased consumer interest in visual arts more so since mid 1990s.

A Reader from Printmaking, the longest serving under qualified Officiating Deans since the early 1990s seemed part of the change that dominated Fine Arts in the 1990s. In 1998, he explained that, “Anybody could make anything, regardless of their subject discipline”. Such belief in popular freedom seemed part of his privilege of being the In Charge Head of Sculpture until 1999 as a self styled expert signaled change. The news of an unprecedented assault on a student and a Professor in 2007 by hitherto unknown moral police and their subsequent banishment suggest failure of teachers nurturing extracurricular freedoms resulting into ‘grotesqueness’ of sculptural installation. A student seeking public sensation and media attention was new for internal assessment of Post Graduate studies in Printmaking as it had ended up offending religious sentiments of some visitors. Anybody doing anything would spell understandable trouble for tutors nurturing academic looseness as well as artful exigencies for servile privilege of hegemony, self promotion and control affecting health of the educational institution.

4. What does an Art institution means to you?

Vasudevan A.: Art institution is expected encourage to have confidence in liberal thinking and practice with a sense of understanding of history.

Inrapramit Roy: An art institution is a place where young talents are nurtured and honed. They are the laboratory where creative energy is allowed to find concrete expression. Exposing the student to a variety of practices is the most important work that an institution can do.

Jayaram Poduval: art pedagogy.

Vijay Bagodi: A Place where students can come and learn the art of expressing themselves.

Malti Gaekwad: to me an art institution is one which provides freedom to express alongside teaching a respect for traditional art forms. it should create a culture for nurturing new ideas while a study of existing practices.

Rini Dhumal: an art institution is a place of learning where young minds reach out to their teachers to enhance their creative faculties and learn the fundamentals of art and culture along with technical know how.

P. D. Dhumal: there are places with very conductive for young minds to expose themselves to newer ideas to - earn required skills, coming in contact with artists from various places indian as well as international. students can learn from each other, exchange ideas. learn articulation - speak about their ideas and works with other students and teachers.

Dhruva Mistry: In addition to my 2nd response, an art institution is part of social and cultural way of life affecting communities through the act and process of instituting an establishment that excels to instruct and educate students through a system of established methods of higher education and advanced studies.

5. According to you, where does an art institution stand in the context of contemporary Indian scenario in the order of best training in fine arts?

Vasudevan A.: There are not many Institutions around except a few which deals with the Universal and local at the same time.

Inrapramit Roy: There are all kinds of art teaching institutes in India , some are legacies of the 19 th cent. colonial system, some are not geared to a professionalism and treat art as a hobby class and only a handful that are contributing to contemporary art practice, Baroda is leading in this category. But there can & will be artists who do not attend any institutional training.

Jayaram Poduval: question not clear.

Vijay Bagodi: Same as ans. 4.

Malti Gaekwad: each one has it's significant role to play.

Rini Dhumal: art institution stands as always for imparting knowledge. because of exposure to global access may be an institution has to change to the present circumstances vis a vis the curriculum. a base is always needed for the students and institution provides that.

P. D. Dhumal: it is extremely important institution for all kinds of training/ as most art schools have infrastructure and facility for learning.

Dhruva Mistry: Baroda art school, thought to be a kind of blend of Western and native Shantiniketan model of tree University art education offers under and post graduate degrees recognized by the University Grants Commission and ratified by the State Government as recognized qualifications in the Higher Education of Visual Arts. However, continuation of unrecognized Diplomas and Post Diplomas suggest unlettered art practice against the very objective of Higher Education at the University level supporting second rate ideas. In March 2010, the VC sacked 5 Lecturers for non compliance of minimum qualifications for 10 years. It also included the preferred teacher from Sculpture Department since 1998 against minimum qualification of teachers for maintenance in Higher Education in Fine Arts reveal politics of rampant discrimination and patronage.

Sentimental heads favoring pet students as tutors often as protégé lecturers in the departments might not be new but seems to have lowered standards and brought in disrepute to the art school. It is strange that after 60 years of maturity of the art school there is dire shortage of better trained, well qualified, competent and experienced teachers in the various subject streams. Recent news of ‘MSU report card out: Gets B grade in golden jubilee year’, by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, the apex body of University Grants Commission presents clear deterioration of standards since 2001 and subsequent ruckus in the Senate and Syndicate exposing local politics be it sacking of untenable lecturers or appeal for re assessment of NAAC grading which was four star in 2001.

6. As a practicing artist for a long time and as well as having teaching experience in a institution, how do you see and manage personal and public role as an artist and teacher?

Vasudevan A.: It is difficult but can be turned to your advantage if you can strike a balance.

Inrapramit Roy: the role of a teacher is something i take seriously. i think i have things to offer to young art students, a role to play in shaping up their way of looking or expressing themselves. in the process i gain by exposure to creative minds, their ideas, their enthusiasm etc. the danger is teaching is also an act of " giving" and in the process you might end up giving so much that when you walk into your own studio you feel bereft, empty. the struggle for a creative person who also is a teacher is to arrive at the balance - a balance between what you give and what you keep for yourself. that can be tricky but you can take the challenge willfully because you love to teach.

Jayaram Poduval: question vague.

Vijay Bagodi: I do not play ‘roles’- sometimes as an artist and sometimes as a teacher. I am both at the same time- all the time.

Malti Gaekwad: i don't / cant separate the two. i am what i am and not " act" any one !

Rini Dhumal: an artist is part of the society so his role is bounded to be reflected in the art he practices. it is a difficult balance between teaching and practicing art.

P. D. Dhumal: manage it well. what role? and i dont understand this.

Dhruva Mistry: In the line of duty, personal and the public are two opposing ends. Sentimentalism, euphoria, stupor and personal greed and ambitions of members and associates diminish institutional aims, objective and values.

Matters of conscience and individual uprightness as desirable qualities among responsible citizens as artists or teachers contribute to the creative work ethics and culture. The personal and the public remain incompatible and politics of self interest must be avoided by experienced and responsible tutors.

In early 2002, a conditional appointment and undertaking of an unemployable teacher in Sculpture came under scanner for his failure to fulfill the minimum qualifications within the extended probation period of 3 years. When I realized that protégé appointment of an untenable lecturer had been supported by the former Officiating Dean acting as an In Charge Head of Sculpture and other ambitious tutors as well as the VC, I tendered 3 months termination notice and quit the Varsity rather than enjoy privilege of academic and admin designations for unfair interference jeopardizing future of Sculpture and the Fine Arts.

The rest of the story is how teachers on payroll mixed the personal with the public for servile survival. The pleasure principle took over the school for 10 days of ‘creative’ protests in mid December 2002. A few pseudo liberal teachers leaning to the left staged their art activism of ‘right to protest’ by misleading impressionable students. Political checklist of poster and petition wars of love-hate choices, with slogan shouting supporters staging Un-Fair art fair, procession and effigy burning began in earnest. Rumors of the Art History Dean and his henchmen having organized refreshments, meals, hooch and drugs for their leading cohorts in the protest drama circulated for some time. Aspiring students gained from massaging ego of their tutors for better marks, initiation into the hot art biz, recommendation for studio space, group show, flattering remarks for selling work or entry into local art camps and to secure artistic domicile in the city since 2002. Self seeking tutors succeeded in subverting the institution by demonizing and intimidating the ‘other’ through extra constitutional bullying and rhetoric of freedoms. Hierarchy of dissenters and protestors of doom supported unlettered goings on to claim and snatch their share according to their ability and greed. The bootlicking drama over my 60 days dead and defunct Deanship demonstrated psychoneurosis of the few using others for the ambitions of the few until the next crisis resulted into fracas of 2007. Consolidation of misplaced merit, greed and bohemianism of the art school and hubris of people in control cannot be relied upon as an instrument of modernity.

7. What is the difference between an artist teacher and a non artist's teachers' role in an art School ?

Vasudevan A.: It is important to continue practice, without which you are talking about the increasingly world.

Inrapramit Roy: Ideally the artist teacher brings his/her experience in analyzing, suggesting & guiding so they are at an advantage. but all artists do not necessarily make great teachers. I think one needs a great sense of empathy and a certain clarity of thought to become an effective teacher.

Jayaram Poduval: no difference. it depends on the pedagogical practices.

Vijay Bagodi: These are superficial terms- where a person is creative,

sensitive and able to express-is all that really matters.

Malti Gaekwad: a teacher is a teacher always. if a person was not an artist, he could

be something else but would remain a teacher of its subject - theoretical or technical.

Rini Dhumal: one has to choose between the teaching and practicing art. both needs

total dedication and focus. it can be done and teaching and profession can complement one another but difficult.

P. D. Dhumal: a practicing artist as a teacher is slightly more organized to teach his own skills and ideas, while a non practicing artist may be little more liberal, however he has to be trained artist. these can hardly be possible to have art teacher without art education. these are some self styled art teachers( teaching from home), like some self taught artists.

Dhruva Mistry: Better artist teachers imbibe conscientious curiosity and dedicated studentship to learn for the enlightenment of students and oneself. They offer measured sensitivity and understanding of positive experience known to be helpful and in sync with the energy of youthful minds curious about causes of their world. With failed artists’ teachers, poor self esteem and lack of recognition causes problems of judgment leading to subversive jealousy and exploitation. I know of non artists teachers being proficient. I like their absence of artistic vagaries and dispassionate observation good for better reason contributing to scientific imagination and realism crucial in the art of pedagogy.

8. What would be the ideal role of an art institution, and ideas of improving the practice and artistic performance?

Vasudevan A.: Art institution should be in a position to help students to find personal strengths and develop independent world view with confidence in the language they are employing.

Inrapramit Roy: As I have mentioned earlier, an art institution is a place to nurture creativity, for that it needs autonomy without which it can get bogged down within our university system that smothers difference and treats all Institutes under it a similar fashion. Art institutions should look ahead and have a clear vision. K.G. Subramanyan once suggested that, we should do away with specialized departments and have open studios & workshops- ultimately whether you are in print making, painting, sculpture, photography or installation/video, you are a visual artist.

Jayaram Poduval: non hindering.

Vijay Bagodi: These are superficial terms- where a person is creative,

sensitive and able to express-is all that really matters.

Malti Gaekwad: teaching the right values and methodology.

Rini Dhumal: most art institutions have had a strong foundation. to keep it going the governing body has to constantly change their curriculum to suit to present day requirements. but the basic fundamentals should be still present.

P. D. Dhumal: art practice is not progressive or regressive so the idea of improvement doesn't exist. these can be improvement in infrastructure, modernization.

Dhruva Mistry: It is better to learn from the past to improve the present for a meaningful dialogue with the future by strengthening art institutions to train, educate, promote taste and uphold visual standards through holistic pedagogy and practice to improve art, design and the visual world. Controversies are not new in the history of art and culture. The better ones lead the way extending freedom of reason.

Matters of visual taste and judgment reflect personal interests and preferences of artists, critics and public as well as those who judge it. Artists’ inputs in terms of ideas and work remain intellectual part of a thought process in society. Ideals of the institutions are best upheld by conscientious, well qualified, experienced, communicative and dedicated dispassion of tutors ensuring judicious administration adhering to the minimum standards of maintenance of quality in Higher Education for the professional streams of Fine Arts. The art school is responsible to review and revise curricular, practical and tutorial objective geared for the expected outcome for the quality of pedagogy necessary for training, learning and work to improve art practice. Restraint on ad hoc and extracurricular liberties favoring favorite students could lead to difficulties, even fracas.

For increasing 3D and multimedia requirements, the art school needs to incorporate various instructional methods to use graphics, text, animation, audio, video, CD, DVD and provide required infrastructure with space, equipment, and staff, technical and financial support to allow exploration of visual and cultural percept of forms, materials and idioms.

Since mid 1990s, future of sculpture department with 60 students seems annexed by interdisciplinary rhetoric of inadequate teachers getting Readership, Headship and Officiating Deanship as well as In Charge Headship of other departments cause understandable difficulties. Unqualified Headship of other departments nullifies aims of the professional art institution as wannabes snatch privilege of control. Undergraduate degrees in Mural, Printmaking and Photography could help to discourage hybridization. Post graduate studies in Mural, Ceramics, does not have to translate into willful deprivation of Sculpture students their legitimate access to space, equipment, tutors and resources in ceramics. In the 1970s when Painting had no space as well as scope to work with earthenware and ceramics with potting wheels, clays and kilns, Sculpture accommodated a few odd numbers of students to work in ceramics. For well over a decade, the Painting has had a full-fledged Mural Section with required infrastructure of studios, space, equipment and 2 trained mural tutors with gas and electric kilns, yet politics of old ideas of the future continue to defend un-reconceived norms despite changed circumstances. Optional undergrad training in Pottery for Painting students making them eligible for Post Graduation/Diploma in Pottery/Ceramics continues against academic, practical and curricular objective of Professional study, training and Degrees. Curricular review and revision does not seem to have helped under qualified Painting tutors since real, Officiating or In Charge Heads follow mimic traditions and propound pseudo liberal modernity. Moreover, Lecturers should be able to explain, instruct, discuss, espouse and communicate ideas and conceptual complexities covering actual and related aspects of their subject specialization. Readers should be able to read, understand and write in vernacular, national, or the language of instruction, dialogue and communication in an art institution. Professors should be able to profess free, fair and comprehensible ideas and views that nurture, artistic vision, cultural understanding as well as appreciation of contradictions improving communities and people in and around the Universities for improving quality of art practice and life.

9. What should be an ideal art practice/ system in the context of contemporary art scenario of India for the benefit of artists and connoisseurs? And, how can one bring positive changes if any?

Vasudevan A.: I don't know whether there can be an ideal system. It is often connected with social systems and economy and cultural-evoking.

Inrapramit Roy: Fristly art education begins at school not at college level. We definitely need more people who are visually literate and sensitive. Just producing Specialist artists will not solve our problems, We need more people to appreciate and write on art.

Jayaram Poduval: there can be no "ideal" practice of art.

Vijay Bagodi: Be a guide without manipulation and allow the students freedom to express without dictating them. (How /What to express what.)

Malti Gaekwad: cannot comment.

Rini Dhumal: indian contemporary art is in a state of flux. there exists numerous art practices. there cannot be only one school of teaching. An institution should change to the times but keeping an open view point.

P. D. Dhumal: refer to Q.8. i cannot make the statement on ideal art practice.

Dhruva Mistry: ideas of Institutional ideals and practice in any established system like a University suggest ideal of the time. People expect minimum standards of excellence and universal compatibility of quality aspirations designed to improve life of people and communities that they serve. Institutions should provide studied, systematic, professional protection and patronage apart from pursuing, nurturing, promoting and appreciating artistic integrity and commitment. Institutions are thought to support artistic and professional honesty, equity, frankness and respect for the artist, viewer and public.

Like life, ideal practice should evolve out of the real and visionary ambitions of people for comprehensive improvement of a living civilization and culture. Quality art training depends upon nurturing aptitude, developing visual interests, understanding of need, belief and taste of historical traditions catering cultural and artistic needs of people. Artists may contribute through genuine creative vision of the world through their concept of life and oeuvre.

Attitude of pseudo liberal academia has no place in the educational institutions. “Anybody can make anything, regardless of their subject expertise”, Explained the Officiating Dean in 1998, defending democratic freedom of his painter friends using clay, plaster and wax for bronze casting with privilege of his expertise for being In Charge Head of Sculpture. The Officiating Dean’s populist liberalism of views and extracurricular self interests was affecting the culture of nonperformance. Unreasoned acceptance of conceptual ideas and installations encourage outsourcing of popular idol makers’ skills that translate conceptual impulsion into 3D forms for final assessment raise doubts about curricular aims of teaching, training and skills necessary for the subject as well as artistic and personal competence of the student. Compulsions of fame seek sensational curios to attract public attention suggest inadequacies of teaching and training objectives and opportunism

10. Do you think is there any conflict between morality and art practice in contemporary time? Please highlight your personal experience of conflict of interest as an artist or a teacher?

Vasudevan A: There is and there has been always; what is important is to have a system to judge the genuineness of the issues.

Inrapramit Roy: morality as we usually understand it in a conservative society has nothing much to do with art. Morality creates taboos or no-go areas ideally art should go everywhere and even deal with taboo subjects. One of the responsibilities of visual that will shock, make you think & ask questions. Conservative sections of the society will resist & resent that. that is what is happening the unfortunate part is the self censorship.

Jayaram Poduval: clarify the word "morality"

Vijay Bagodi: Subjective opinion differing from person to person.

Malti Gaekwad: in this competitive and commercial world everyone wants to make money.

so i feel its OK to produce work which sells. even an artist has the right to make money like everyone else!

Rini Dhumal: an institution is a sacred place. so the question of conflict of morality and art practice does not rise.

P. D. Dhumal: no. none.

Dhruva Mistry: Conscientious minds understand, appreciate and deal with matters of integrity, ethics, chastity and conformity of accepted rules of conduct of people, artists or citizens and their motivation based on ideas of right or wrong judged to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are reflected in art and culture of people and places.

As the Dean of the Faculty my study of records and stories of anomalies told by tutors suggested taste for precedents over fair practice which explained privilege of predecessors and others. In early 2002, a conditional appointment and undertaking of ineligible teacher in Sculpture came under scanner for his failure to fulfill the minimum qualifications even after an extended probation of the third year. I informed the Varsity of the failures of the untenable appointee and presented subject experts’ review confirming minimum qualifications necessary for standards of maintenance and as approved by the M.S.U. Syndicate prior to his strangely conditional probation. There were few other under qualified teachers appointed in Painting and Printmaking prior to ratification of the minimum standards of maintenance by the Varsity. But, self styled seniors as Heads with ambitions for the Deanship or influence misinformed some tutors of my interest which might threaten their job. The Deanship hopefuls from the Art History and regional aspirants used to populist parochialism opted to politicize my Deanship. Vice Chancellors as figure heads of the Varsity came and went with a fixed tenure of 3 years. Then, after months of speculative vacuum, an unknown scientist came as the VC. His style of courting teachers as a former teachers’ union boss from New Delhi impressed some teachers and groups with fan and supporters for the top brass which included wannabes frequenting him to vent their grievances against their Heads or Deans. An ambitious alliance of subversive time passers began with obsequious support of Fine Arts tutors in support of an untenable lecturer. Perceiving influence of the disadvantaged camp of hard core resisters nurturing exigencies for personal privilege was unfortunate.

In mid August 2002, I tendered 3 months termination notice for my Professorship and consequent appointments as Head of Sculpture as well as Dean of the Faculty. My reasons of quitting highlighted unqualified teacher and unaccounted Students’ Welfare Fund since 1997-and its un-auditable account inherited from an under qualified predecessor. When the Hon. Governor of the state’s query in response to my termination notice followed, it irked the VC and his men. The authorities ignored my resignation notice for 3 months. Then, 3 temporary lecturers from Sculpture walked out in support of my resignation leaving no one except the unqualified teacher supported by the Faculty and the VC. With the Hon. Governor of the state’s query about my termination notice, the VC and his men knew that my termination clock was really on. In late October, two weeks after the end of my 3 months notice, the VC wrote to me that resignation of my Deanship was accepted and should handover charge to the former Head of the Art History whom he had made the Officiating Dean. A onetime sculpture student coming through ambitions of Art History seemed to have settled score with his former rival with his Deanship of the Faculty as well as Headship of Sculpture. His colleague, a professor and Head of Art History real claimant for the Deanship had to wait to for 3 years before he could contest his Deanship in 2007.

Pseudo liberalism of teachers leaning towards far right allied with the far left and rallied for democratic ‘right to protest’. Pleasure principle took over the school to stage ‘creative’ protest over my dead Deanship in mid December 2002; the year of worst communal carnage in Gujarat. Activism of low self esteem cried for emotive populism of the majority to invent the ‘other’ that they could demonize and intimidate through extra constitutional rhetoric. Ambitious teachers stroked emotive adolescence of followers and susceptible students to reject or support practically and legally dead ‘Deanship’. Poster and petition wars of love-hate choices using students and prying alumni seeking success in the city joined with slogan shouting supporters staged procession, Un-Fair art fair and effigy burning in earnest. Students gossiped about the new Dean and his henchmen for arranging refreshments, lunch, meals, hooch as well as drugs for their cohorts in the defamatory drama. Select students’ got better marks, initiation into the hot art biz, flattering remarks and recommendation for inclusion in group shows, sale of work, free studio space and invitation into local art camps supporting creative domicile, while others were ignored. Some tutors acted as unofficial spokes persons by mixing the personal with the public through misinformation. On the 10th day, the VC walked in to pacify the hierarchy of dissenters and protestors of doom supporting his unlettered protest to get their share according to their ability, ambition and greed. The bootlicking drama over my 60 days dead professorship and defunct Deanship displayed psychoneurotic fears of the few. With dependable support from the Fine Arts teachers and students, the VC did not need reason to reprimand my Deanship and subvert future of the Fine Arts.

In August 2003, the second query with a question mark about my 3 months termination notice from the Hon. Governor of Gujarat prodded the VC to concede that I had quit the Varsity in mid October 2002! Fate of Fine Arts was sealed as the VC had to vote from his Chair in favor of an untenable lecturer jeopardizing future of Sculpture and other students of the Fine Arts to remove my ‘Deanship’ from his head. When unsuspecting teachers learnt about the VC being a close relative of a Central Education Minister, the damage had been done by the self seeking staff bending over backwards. After him, it was the turn of another ‘young and experienced’ VC.

Sighting strange tradition of odd ‘Honorary’ tutors frequenting the Art School, I offered to work for free in the interest of the institution but the VC seemed unhappy with self styled service. When I read that the Registrar was declared to be missing by the Varsity in 2010, it was clear that like his old boss he too had been helping himself with unauthorized perks from the Varsity. English or Gujarati news papers refer the Varsity lecturers as ‘Professors’, regardless of qualifications, experience, expertise, professionalism and contribution. Columns like ‘Culture Vultures’, ‘Fine Arts Fracas’ and ‘MSU Brain Dead’ in the English papers over few years reveal erosion of minimum standards in higher education. Educated and emerging professionals and aspiring middle classes among consumers, promoters and inheritors of the Indian ethos reflected ambivalent disregard for the mythos of art. Popular disdain for reason and detail verged on support for the mythos of art dominated by cultural chauvinism, mercantile apathy and ideas of secularism.

With privilege seekers exploiting liberalism and trust of colleagues, students and people, showdown of May 2007 seemed natural. Prior to a public opening of Fine Arts Degree Show, news of physical assault on the In Charge Dean and a Printmaking student by hitherto unknown moral police during exam and assessment spread through SMS and phone calls volunteered by young as well as senior alumni and others. A Printmaking student’s reference to religious images and it’s alleged ‘grotesqueness’ in his sculptural installation and prints seemed to have hurt sentiments of some visitors seeing the Degree Show and it involved Police complaints as well as court. The incident seemed to have rattled the art fraternity, art school and as the In Charge Dean. With prior experience of the right to protest drama, aspiring Painting tutors, Art History and Printmaking teachers and supporting students led an inflamed charge against the polity of the University and city by condemning the unfair infringement by seeking an unconditional apology. The tone of support for the In Charge Dean led to insubordination of the Varsity’s orders setting the tone of a revolt. Number of alumni artists, retired teachers and old gurus of the faculty supported the protest for democratic freedom of expression. Media coverage on TV and print reported odd law and order incidents in the inner city raising level of anxiety and tension. Within couple of days, the Varsity authorities suspended the Art History Professor and Head acting as In Charge Dean, rusticated the Printmaking student and sealed off displays and both departments before banning the professor from the Varsity/ Faculty campus. The Fine Arts fracas attracted unusual media attention since stories of a self styled exile of M. F. Hussain, a veteran Painter from Mumbai in 2004. Soon, the real Dean returned to take control of the situation. Leading allies of earlier agitation from Printmaking and Art History seemed withdrawn and went on leave. The situation exposed hollow unity and baffled clans, camps and people as some disgruntled leftists continued protesting against the VC demanding that dignity of the suspended Professor be restored. News and views about the protracted drama with SMS messages, emails, poster wars targeting poor performance of the VC, human chains and news in the print and electronic media, candle light vigil, processions and TV and other debate including Gandhigiri with roses, songs and drums continued. A charge sheet for the In Charge Dean and show cause notices for few agitating teachers followed before the former Art History Head got his Deanship extended until 2009.

The incident eclipsed contribution of the Faculty of Fine Arts in the cultural and socio-political ambience of Baroda. The Governor’s commission to look into the unfortunate incidents for remedial measures calmed temperatures. The fracas exposed simmering rivalries and factionalism of Art History and their allies from the other departments seeking hegemony. In the case of a Printmaking student’s work, the In Charge Dean’s involvement resulting into a fateful drama and bizarre turn of events leading to his suspension and the student being rusticated cast doubts upon the role of 2 Printmaking Readers as an old and a new Head. A student working over 2 year Post graduation period with extracurricular sculptural ideas, and objects hanging banners over his department in the Degree Show raise questions about his tutors and the tutorials inviting wrath of odd visitors as well as obscure moral police. Unqualified interests of the art fraternity with city elites, artists’ gurus with opposing and supporting camps of resident alumni, teachers and students seemed to have lent covert support to the cultural chauvinism of dubious regionalists vying for control of the Fine Arts while opportunist Painting staff led protest dramas in and around their Departmental leadership. Ambivalence of the art fraternity lent political credence to the mediocrity of a few over the art school with their support for the Faculty of Fine Arts as well as sympathy for the aggrieved and agitating teachers against the Varsity’s politics. In the end, the old guard from Art History and his silent supporters gained control as one of their Readers seems set to emulate the past precedent with Officiating Deanship and In Charge Headship of Sculpture. His predecessor, the Dean and Art History colleague got rewarded with nomination to the Syndicate of the Varsity. The story of appointment of new professor in Sculpture coming to head the department who was made to leave in dubious circumstances in early 2010 suggests camaraderie of phony concerns, privilege and hysteric control of two Art History teachers.

My attitude sought performance for which I had to get into the trenches to clean up the campus and inherited admin mess of unseemly omissions. Parochial ambitions and wile of onetime contemporaries as self styled seniors nurtured dream constituencies with followers and protégés. The city with wannabe survivors contended to influence views, people, ideas and situations which offered a chancy success for deserving and sincere teachers as the under qualified enjoyed the privilege. Native and domicile groups of artists, cliques of retainers, emerging patrons, commission agents, practitioners and retired tutors, artists, erudite gurus and associates suggested interest in art, philanthropy of views, words and advice. Actual absence of an organized alumni association since the 1960s reflect the polity of strange control despite significant number of experienced and retired teachers and working professionals dealing with range of issues, media and things.

11. What should be the ideal art criticism?

Vasudevan A.: Impersonal meant to analyze and understand the merits of a work of art.

Inrapramit Roy: Art criticism is not a review its job is to place the work(s) in a context but apart from that there are no one ideal but many.

Jayaram Poduval: there can be no "ideal" criticism either.

Vijay Bagodi: Is it possible to have an ‘ideal art criticism?’

-What is your intent behind this query.

Malti Gaekwad: -

Rini Dhumal: art criticism to my knowledge does not really exist in india – there are few who can really write critically without basis or knowledge. there should be more emphasis in journals and newspapers.

P. D. Dhumal: if it is mutual between artist and critic.

Dhruva Mistry: Art criticism is an art of judging with knowledge and propriety of the beauties new or old, and faults of an artist’s production in the subject of fine arts. Intelligent readers enjoy good piece of writing on art or other subjects where ideas of reality, experience observation and critical perspective enhance delight of perception about art ideas, exhibition or the oeuvre of artists.

Criticism should reflect an informed onlooker’s perception of positivism of interest in seeing, understanding and reviewing of an artist’s ideas, intentions, resultant outcome, interesting views about visual fascination, interest and qualities of the work reflecting comprehension of the oeuvre of one’s work. Critical writing should encourage, inform and stimulate readers’ visual, personal, social, historical, cultural and spiritual awareness of ways of seeing and looking at images and works of art.

12. Is today’s art criticism suited to the needs of artists and the public? If not, what would you suggest to improve contemporary art criticism?

Vasudevan A.: There will be always different levels of art criticisms. In a country like ours there is also a need to have writings which will help common man to understand art practices.

Inrapramit Roy: Serious writers do not get any space to write. Art criticism is a very tricky thing in India. Especially with senior artists no young art critic dares to be very critical because his/ her livelihood will be at a stake. There should be space for more robust criticism. Without it getting personal, laudatory public relation pieces pass off as criticism.

Jayaram Poduval: if the criticism is not "suited" then it cannot called as "art criticism"

Vijay Bagodi: no suggestion!

Malti Gaekwad: -

Rini Dhumal: no- there should be critics who write solely on art and make the public aware of contemporary art and culture - at present there is a huge gap between the public and the artist. critics have played an important role ie bringing art to public elsewhere in the world why not here.

P. D. Dhumal: yes it is, art criticism in India has a problem of vehicle. we do not have enough media interest- either, journals, papers or tv. this must improve. i don’t know how.

Dhruva Mistry: Given choice of looking at the work or read text on the work or the artist, I would prefer to look at the work before reading words about the artist or his art. Today’s criticism seems to care for what the critic wishes to expand on art and ideas of personal modernity of and about the work. Visual interest of viewers and artists does not rely upon criticism reflecting modernity of views and ways with the words methodologies, historical trajectories, art critical assumptions and justifications for a vastly varied work of Indian artists. The language of art criticism meant to impress colleagues and rivals range from being contrived with convoluted views of history and criticism suggest personal, ideological, commercial or other interests of scribes promoting the kind and art and ideas of activism nurturing radicalism of survival.

Democracy supports personal and public freedom of expression and ideas of visual excellence. Free market interests of local, national and global culture industry supports contemporarneity of life and art. Better art scribes care for individual ideas and interests of aesthetic merit, professionalism and survival while working for artists, art lovers, dealers, and people. Since radical modernity in art and criticism remain as rare as revolutionary technological innovations, Modernity and post modernity of Europe and the West since 1900s affect global ideas of modernisms. The culture of non European countries and continents reflect post colonial pangs and pleasures of imperialism, hegemony, control as well as chaos since end of the World War II to the cold war. Ideas of modernity of art criticism fed upon alien modes and models create discrepancies of interpretation and understanding of modernity especially with range of tribal, folk, traditional arts and crafts being practical part of a developing contemporaraneity of art and culture of India. Sub continental desires, curiosities and needs offer a trial and error method of evolution of ideas, materials, means and idiom of expressions for individual, visual, socio-cultural for sustainable development of consolidated future.