Art of friendship

Verbal Duel

Art of friendship

Originally written by Yasmina Reza in French, the cast has used the English adaptation by Christopher Hampton.

The plot is marvellously simple. A man, Serge (played by Aakash Mukerji) buys a modern painting for a relatively huge sum of money ($ 200,000). A sum he can apparently ill-afford. The piece of art in question is a large canvas, painted white, with ‘fine white diagonal lines’. Largely unremarkable. The friend to whom he shows off his new purchase, Marc, (Akshett Jain) is completely unsettled by Serge's capricious art acquisition.

Another mutual friend, to whom Marc vents his frustration, is Ivan (played by the director Avinash Daniel). He in turn is more ambivalent willing to give Serge some benefit of the doubt. What surfaces amid all the brouhaha that goes back and forth, is the famous question: “What is art?” The expensive white canvas, that is the centre of the whole controversy, pushes the limits of the definition in every direction. The age-old debate itself involves the three characters revealing all sorts of layers and meanings within the relationships themselves.

Central to the plot with regards to Serge is the official sanction by an art dealer, who supposedly validates his purchase.

“Huntingdon would take it off my hands for 220,” says Serge to Marc as he tries to justify the outrageous price. The white painting in question is done by a ‘well known’ artist, Antrios, and apparently also “worth mentioning” by art snobs is the fact that it is a ‘seventies’ Antrios. Just because the so-called experts say it is significant, Serge believes it is.

However, he also wants some amount of validation from his friends. They, in turn, question their relationship with a man who is willing to spend such a large amount of money on something that they find hard pressed to consider 'art.'

Ivan, teeters between two extreme positions, trying to keep the peace and smooth things over. He is also trying to prepare for his wedding. The joyous event gets dragged into the fight as well as the conflict becomes much more personal. In the end, the play is not about art at all, but a verbal duel about the value and importance of friendship.

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