Friday, July 9, 2010

Who determines the masterpiece?

I have always been an admirer of art. I believe the ability to create is one of the greatest gifts from God. When I was young, I would rush home from school just to watch my uncle paint one of his pieces under a nim tree at the back of our house. He usually painted abstract pieces that amazed me even though I didnt think they were very beautiful. Occationally a visitor will pass by and look at his work. They either laughed or told him to look for another hobby. This made my uncle upset but he always managed to keep a smile on his face.

One sunny weekend afternoon, he called me over to his room and asked me to sit still on a chair next to the window. I did as he said and he begun to paint me. I wondered how the painting would look like as I sat there. ‘Can I see it now?’ I kept asking. My uncle just laughed and encouraged me to be patient. When the work was done, I bounced off the chair to see how my replica looked like. It was beautiful. He had captured my smile and my eyes seemed to be glowing. I loved it. I felt it was far better than all the other strange paintings he used to make.

My uncle from that day changed his style of painting. He no longer did abstact art but portraits and landscapes. He entered into an art competition in Accra and won. After about four years his paintings could be seen in most art galleries in the country. I was so happy and I felt my portrait had changed his life until one eventful day. I went over to help him move into his new appartment. He didn’t notice me enter. He was sitting down staring at his old works and there seemed to be tears in his eyes. He was looking at one particular piece that took him three months to finish. I saw where his real passion laid but for the sake of society he was making a sacrifice. This made me wonder, was my uncle an artist or merely a people pleaser.
My uncle was getting more and more successful with his portraits. He had fans from all over the world. He suggested I become his manager. He felt I was the best person for the job because he could trust me, I had been with him throughout his journey and I was family. I was very excited but I knew the job wouldn’t be easy so I did as much reading as I could about art. I took a crash course in art appreciation, went for several exhibitions and visited galleries. It was after this that everything made much more sense to me. There are several things that make up a good artist; his skill, knowledge, method and most especially his passion. I also learnt that what made an art piece unique and admirable were the good work of the artist as well as the ability of the admirer to relate to the piece.

I went to my uncle’s studio and took out his old abstract works and realized I was right with my new insight. They were extremely beautiful and unique. It was almost impossible to believe that I never appreciated them in the past. I spoke to the owner of one of the art galleries that my uncle’s works were displayed and told them about a special collection he had that hadn’t been yet seen by the public. They seemed very interested and agreed almost immediately. When I told my uncle about it he seemed even more excited than I thought. We made arrangements for all his fans to be at this event. Occasionally he had doubts about what people would think but I always reassured him that all would be well.

On the day of the event we displayed seventeen works! The attendance was unbelieveable with many known and respected faces in the art scene. The responses were far more enthusiastic than any one had ever seen before. Critiques said it was his best collection ever. There was an auction on one of the paintings. It got bought by the owner of the largest art gallery in London. He was so pleased with the work. At the close of the day I looked at my uncle and realized he was on his way to being a legend in Ghanaian art basically because of both his skill and passion. Thank God he kept his most inspired pieces.

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