Since art critics are in the news, let me mention a few of them. The best art critic in the country, according to me and several others, is Nissim Ezekiel. His art reviews are well written and lucid. At least, you understand what he is writing. As it is, most of the paintings do not make much sense and they are just patches of paint unevenly applied on a canvas. You never know when the artist is genuinely inspired (though what kind of an inspiration is it, any say?) and when he is taking you for a ride. And when an art critic is equally incomprehensible, then it becomes a problem.
Nissim Ezekiel is different Unfortunately, he goes not do reviews any more. He is himself a creative person and would rather devore his time to writing than reviewing other people's works.
That leaves us with Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni. Mr. Nadkarni is what editors' dreams are made of. If an editor needs a review of anything - drama, film, book, painting exhibition, cultural show - in a hurry, and he does not have anybody else to do it for him he rings up Nadkarni, and Mr. Nadkarni delivers it within the next 12 hours. And he does a perfectly competent job, thoroughly professional.
Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni is a freelancer and he makes his living as a freelancer. Not like Khushwant Singh or Kuldip Nayak, who write one column and circulate it to 50 papers; he writers 50 different columns for 50 papers. It is a lot of work, and, perhaps, that gives him the grumpy look.
The other veteran art critic is Arkay, who does the art notes for this paper and in the past has done for several other papers. He is a gentleman who has many irons in the fire, or wears many hats, so he possibly prefers to be known by his acronym. But in the art world he is well-known and respected, especially by the older painters.
S. V. Vasudev, better known as SVV, was another art critic that was respected. There is no art critic in the country who can make or break an artist, just as there is no political editor in this country who can create or destroy a government. But a few art critics are read and followed by art buyers. SVV was one of these. He died a premature death last year.
And just as there are new and young artists, there are new and young art critics. Most of these young critics are women, who either cannot get or do not want a full-time job. So they become art critics; they go from gallery to gallery and at the end of the week write an art critique for their respective newspapers. And that is what the art scene in Bombay is all about.