Art imitates life and vice-versa they say. This could not be more true in the case of Hachette India's new release, 'Artist, Undone' by V Sanjay Kumar. I have never been able to understand art. I appreciate it a lot though. I can also distinguish between an MF Husain and a Bhupen Khakhar which I cannot say for most people, who claim to love art. Nonetheless, since this is a review, I shall talk about the book.
'Artist, Undone' chronicles the life of Harsh Sinha - who sees a likeness of himself (fat, forty and f*****) in a painting 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.
Harsh Sinha is your ordinary person wanting to live an ordinary life and not getting very far with that. His aspirations are not those many and yet what he searches for is self-fulfillment (quite ironic in its own way). One can relate to the protagonist and what he goes through throughout the book. The range of emotions are consistent and do not change that frequently. That could also be attributed to the fact that may be because it is written by a man, so the treatment is rather different.
What struck me the most is the juxtaposition of what Harsh feels throughout alongside works of famous artists (the list is provided at the end). The writing is refreshing - almost like cool mineral spa water like feel to it. The book makes the reader aware about art and sometimes its implications. What it means to own a painting and how that sometimes unintentionally takes over a part of your life and remains attached to it. 'Artist, Undone' is a great debut to be read. It might prove to be a slow read for some; however I can assure you that it will be a worth read.
Title: Artist, Undone; Author: V Sanjay Kumar; Publisher: Hachette India; Genre: Literary Fiction; Pages: 240