The Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile that has intrigued viewers for centuries might well have been transformed into a hoot of raucous laughter. And the cause of her mirth could be the case of a 67-year-old Italian artist, Salvatore Garau, who has recently sold an ‘invisible sculpture’, which you can’t see, feel, smell, or taste, called ‘Io sono’, ‘I am’ for the equivalent of Rs 13.3 lakh to an unidentified buyer who, along with his intangible and imperceivable purchase, was given a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ and specific instructions on where and how to display it.
This is not the artist’s first foray into the realm of formless and featureless art. Earlier, in a large, taped off area in the middle of Milan’s Piazza della Scala where the iconic opera house stands, Garau had ‘displayed’ a monumental invisible work he called Buddha in Contemplation for the edification of a bemused public.
When asked to explain his works – or non-works – of art, he replied, “After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?”
Garau’s ingenious approach to art might be summed up by saying that beauty lies in the aye of the beholder. If, by using the power of your own imagination you can make perceptible that which is imperceptible, then for you that nothingness will become a somethingness and a thing of beauty which will be a ploy forever.
However, as much as the Italian might like to pat himself on his own back for his path-breaking originality in the realm of the imaginary, he has long been pre-empted by a large number of Indian practitioners who have displayed as much, if not greater, creativity in the art of the illusory.
Over many years they have worked tirelessly to create fantastical works of surpassing seductiveness out of thin air for the benefit of millions of people.
They have conjured mirages of prosperity, and progress, and schools, and hospitals, and not just ordinary makans but marvellous mahals for aam janta to dwell in.
The only thing is they don’t call their airy-fairy creations works of art, they call them election manifestos. And they don’t call themselves artists but netas.
This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.
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