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October 9, 2012

Book Review - 95 : Artist, Undone





Author : V. Sanjay Kumar
Publisher : Hachette India

Artist, Undone is like being on an Adventure Island, not really knowing what to expect but in the end you will be more than happy to have taken this trip. It is the narrative of one man's understanding of the creation, the commerce and the critiquing of the contemporary art. It is also finding your true self even when it is late in life with redeeming qualities and redefining perspectives.

The novel traces the life of Harsh Sinha - who sees a similar portrait of himself in a painting(Titled: Fat, Forty and Fucked, rechristened in Hindi as Chaalis, Charbi aur Chootiya)and purchases it on an impulse. He decides to take a year-long sabbatical from his advertising job in Mumbai to return to his family in Chennai, to be able to spend time with his wife and daughter. Sadly, for him his wife doesn't want him anymore. Ironically, she is interested in the artist next door - Newton Kumaraswamy. Harsh is perplexed. His life has crumbled right before his eyes and he has nothing but a painting to account for. He then goes back to Mumbai and gets involved in the world of art and artists.

The author gives us an inside view of the Indian art world: how some artists live and survive, the cold silence and unique marketing style of Mumbai galleries, the ad-hocism of price and purchase of art work et. al. The author put this on paper with great detailing and paints a realistic, honest portrait of the art world which very few of us can claim to know. There are brilliant portions where the juxtaposition of the inner world of Harsh along with his newly acquired perspectives of the art world will leave you spell bound. All the more, it raises an important question, what exactly art is in India?

I am going with 4/5 for V.Sanjay Kumar's 'Artist, Undone'. It is one of those rare debut novels which you may start with little expectations but will be pleasantly surprised by the turns and twists it takes through the narrative. It is worth your money and time. Go for it!!

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