The Test of Time

I just finished watching an amazing documentary this week called Tim’s Vermeer (highly recommended). I will avoid going into the facts of the documentary but the thing is, it made me think about something really important and kind of unrelated to what it is. We have these great painters: Vermeer, van Gogh, Botticelli, Raphael, Monet etc. Have you ever thought, if we will/have someone of that remarkable talent? My question is a little flawed, I know. I recognise that the early half of the 20th Century gave us artists like Picasso, Pollack, Warhol, Dali etc. After the 60’s, I feel like the artistic movement “slowed” down or became stagnant. Even though we have painters who are equally talented today, I sometimes wonder if the world today will ever rise up to the grandiose of these legends. My opinion is highly subject but I can’t help but wonder at times, why don’t we have the same enthusiasm like we have when we see a Vermeer or Monet, when we see art today.

I have some answers. One thing that I learnt was that if you need to be immortalised, you need your work (not just art) to stand the test of time. Your work needs to be appreciated by the future generations. A reason why I might be feeling what I’m feeling is because I’m actually in this time. Sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? We all are living in the present, none of us have seen what the future is holding, what might be “relevant” in the future. It’s all unknown.

Contemporary art is flourishing. It grows every day. There are beautiful pieces everywhere. I am not just talking about paintings, we have digital art, graffiti, 3D printing and so much more. There is an influx of talent but the problem is that we don’t have control over it. Everything is there and there is too much of it. There are amazing digital artworks out there that can (dare I say) compete with works of the “great” painters of the previous centuries and decades. But hardly any of these come into talk. We admire these pieces but we rarely “appreciate” the beauty. People don’t look at them the same way.

There is another problem. We seldom have control of what becomes famous these days. Things become viral, but hardly anything can become timeless. People lose interest as quickly as they gain it. We are desensitised to a lot things, not just art. It all might sound very pessimistic but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That is time. Time is the ultimate deciding factor. People’s opinion changes over time. You might think that what you are doing now is irrelevant but, you don’t actually know. A lot of famous painters had other equally talented artists at the same time. Time had chosen the life of the most interesting of them all or someone so remarkable that it just can’t ignore them. Maybe it’s a lesson. Not to be taken literally, but to make your life interesting and be remarkable. I’m not asking you to go around cutting your earlobes or do something very different/amazing (that would be too much pressure), just do something a little different everyday. Have confidence in what you are doing, try to hone your skills and let things work out with time. It’s hard to predict the future but you can always shape it by giving your best right now. Take motivation from someone but don’t try to be “them”. What would be the point in spending your life trying to become someone and never actually be who you really are.

– Valeen Sodhi

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