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By Dr. Shivarama Karanth
Karnataka University, Dharwar, 1976, 40, 4.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

Books on the fine arts are few in Kannada, and most of these offer a few general remarks on the growth of these arts in India—such as that the arts have been wedded to religion in this country for centuries—and then proceed to introduce the differ­ent schools of a particular art. Dr. Karanth's slim volume on the three fine arts—painting, sculpture and architecture—is refreshing in its approach. The volume comprises three lectures on these arts. Dr. Karanth feels that there is a lamentable gap in the education of the youth of today and that it is sad that they should remain more or less strangers in the realm of the arts. The aim of the work is to provide the lay reader with the background infor­mation he needs to appreciate works of art. The value of the book lies in its unswerving adherence to this aim. It is strictly out of bounds for words like adbhuta (magnificent), amogha (invaluable) and amara (deathless). There is no room here for vague ecstacies. The author has one eye on his subject and another on his audience. He is always concrete and clear. The nature of the particular art, its media and their implications, the approach of a school and the implications of the approach are lucidly set forth. And all this is done with a mini­mum use of technical terms. What is fundamental to a particular art is never lost sight of. Thus, for example, early in the lecture on painting, Dr. Kar­anth says: ‘Our eye!! recognize all objects in the world outside as big or small, near or far, with the help of light’; and in the course of the lecture he returns again and again to this experience of light, size and distance. The talks are interspersed with stimulating observations. He says, for instance, ‘Our painters did not recognize (as the painters of Europe did) the relationship between light and form’; and again, ‘Most of the icons in India were those of gods and goddesses, and as they became objects of worship, more and more rules began to bridle technique … Prescriptions began to chain sculpture.’ He points out that English has about 8,000 words for different colours and shades, while Kannada seems to have barely 30. The speaker's study of different schools and artists in other parts of the world serves to illuminate his comments ...

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