Thoughts of an artist in a diary

Most eminent personalities, who inspire us today have done it with their words of wisdom, their thoughts and have made themselves relatable by letting us in their private lives too, and made us feel not so different. But there would be no way to gauge their thoughts, if they didn’t keep diaries. 

“During 1947 to 1980, Susan Sontag (American writer) wrote entries into her private journal. Hidden from the eyes of the world, these notes to her, on art, aesthetics, love and the nature of beauty were to contain some of her most profound thinking. Published later as Journals and Notebooks, these spaces of intimate self-reflection enabled some of Sontag’s most powerful thinking on the process of creativity,” says Gayatri Sinha, the curator of an on-going all women show, ‘Diaries Entries’.

As a concept for an art show, the diary, with its artistic doppelganger, the sketchbook, is the first sign of the commitment to an idea. For centuries, the diary has had a private life, an ancient practice that allowed space and  respite from the everyday, a kind of private roster for  fantasy and but also for self resolution. Women kept diaries, at least from the middle ages and in the modern times from Virginia Woolf to Nasreen Mohamedi, often unmindful of dates, allowing reflections on love or the familial setting to collide with details of domesticity. Following Sinha’s idea, Nilima Sheikh, Paula Sengupta, Benitha Perciyal, Sheba Chhachi and Hemali Bhuta have made their diaries entries into art pieces, hanging on the wall.

“The process of writing a diary entry is also presented as a diary entry. As a form of untrammelled serial expression, while the art works need not reflect on diaries or text in any way, the reflection on   process, and the very act of art, is invited. When I am pressing a material against the paper to make an entry, it also becomes a part of the diary entry. Masks, impression on paper and cultural pieces are also part of the entry. ,” Bhuta tells Metrolife.

According to Sinha, like other minor art forms, the diary has not survived the era of technology. What it remains as, is as an evocative space of the imagination.

This exhibition seeks to engage the spirit of the diary, precisely as a place where past, present and future come together and the artist has complete control. Diaries tend to be written in familiar spaces of comfort, for personal reflection, but also during incarceration, illness or migration. Like the sketch book, they carry the first stroke of creative expression, the germ of an idea.

Diary Entries in ongoing till February 20 at Gallery Escape, Community Centre, New Friends Colony.

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