The life and work of Y.K. Shukla would seem
to provide an exact illustration of the workings of the artistic spirit
on the Indian art scene in the twentieth century. Most Indian artists
of his generation underwent a transmutation or conversion, given an India
in transition. This was a period of learning, the trying out of alien
influences. A painful process, often ending on no conclusive note, but
still an inevitable one. The academy had made its mark on the Indian urban
scene, and till its perspective to space had been understood, mastered-and
then rejected or adopted-there was bound to be a stalemate.
Eclectcism was the net outcome of this stalemate. Hybrid styles proliferated.
Most Indian artists of the time vacillated between an earlier India's
art of affect (or imaginative recreation of experience), and the exactitudes
of the physical eye such as the academics represented. This distinction
may well be expresed in terms of what may be called the subjective or
the objective artistic intellects. The 'objective' intellect being one
which is eminently impersonal, and the 'subjective' equally personal.
The former disengaging itself as much as possible from its own prepossesions,
striving to see and represent objects as they exist; the other viewing
all objects in the light of feelings and preconceptions.
Of course it is needless to add that no artistic mind can be exclusively
objective, nor exclusively subjective. But every mind and every culture
has a more or less dominant tendency in one of these directions. We see
this contrast in life as in art. The realist artist starts from nature
upwards, proceeds inductively, starting from perceived reality and never
loosing sight of it-even his adventurous flights correspond with the measurements
registered by the laws of optics. The other sort of artist, as in the
earlier Indian tradition, works his way from an idea downwards, proceeds
deductively, starting from some ideal conception, and seeking in realities
only visible illustrations of deeper existence.