Forty-year-old Harsh Sinha unknowingly enters into the art world. He is so moved by a painting bearing his name that he ends up spending almost all his life’s savings on it. Announcing a year-long break from his advertising job in Mumbai, he returns to Chennai to his wife and daughter.
But things are not the way he had left them: the artist next-door, Newton Kumaraswamy has caught his wife’s fancy.
It is at this critical juncture, when Sinha is facing mid life crisis that the Indian art world and the artists that inhabit it catch his attention.
Harsh Sinha is the protagonist of Artist, Undone, debut novel of an art connoisseur and collector V. Sanjay Kumar — one of the few fictional works revolving around the art world.
“Artists lead a chaotic life that is very different from the corporate world. Their habits, their lifestyle is very different from the vigorous, virile world of the business class,” says the author, who changed professions in 1988, when he gave up his job in the financial services sector to open Sakshi Gallery in Chennai.
The writer is deeply influenced by the post-modernist Indian poet, Arun Kolatkar. When asked what compelled him to write, he gave a terse reply, “What compels an artist to paint!”
“Although, it was marriage which acted as a catalyst,” he added.
Writer, critic Kishore Singh who was in discussion with the author said, “The dialogue-delivery of Sanjay’s book is quite refreshing.”
Art is not something unrelated to the society, it rather presents itself in the myriad forms in the real life. The novel speaks of such middle-class characters that work, struggle, face hardships and ‘heartships’, yet stand firmly.
The world of contemporary Indian art has not been explored much by the fiction writers. Kumar does this ably, with his witty and humourous style of writing.
Prior to this novel, Kumar had attempted another one, which did not work out well.
Kumar is already working on a couple of areas for his next book. “I continue to be inspired by the art world. I am also looking at goings on in a street in Chennai and trying to write about the people who live there.”