Portrait of art

Published On: January 27, 2018 12:54 AM NPT By: Sandeep Poudyal

If you consider yourself an artist in the gym, you are carefully molding your body. You exercise the way you want your body to look

What is art? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be considered art? If I paint something, that piece may be considered art and I may be called an artist, but if a chimpanzee does it, is it art? Is the chimp an artist? The fact of the matter is that art is one of the more difficult things to define or explain.

Some people are of the opinion that the words art and artist are used too liberally. They think we need to be more selective and critical with the classification. While there are others (me being one of them), who think everything can be art and everyone can be called an artist. I believe that art is a massive cloud that can envelop a vast array of things given certain necessary conditions. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say I am an artist? I bet you are thinking I can sketch, paint, sing, or play an instrument. What if I said none of the above? Most of you may agree with me if I said that sculpting is art. By that extension, bodybuilding should be considered an art as well. Bodybuilding is essentially you sculpting your body. 

Gym culture
Going to the gym has become a trend. Gym memberships have gone up and the number of gyms that is being opened in the city has also increased. There are a variety of people that go to the gym. Some want to lose weight, some want to gain weight, some want to get ripped, some want their clothes to fit, some go to the gym to socialize, and some just go for the spa. Whatever the reason, the number unarguably has increased. Out of all these people that go to the gym to build a better body, there are a few that engage in the art of sculpting. 

If you consider yourself an artist in the gym, you are carefully molding your body. You exercise the way you want your body to look. You have a clear idea of what your masterpiece is going to look like and you chisel your body in that manner. You don’t just lift anything and everything you see. There are a number of people that go to the gym and just lift anything and sit at whichever machine. They will do shoulder presses and then go on to bench presses, after which they will do some bicep curls. At this point they may see someone doing squats. They’ve seen many people do that. It looks tough. It looks like something strong people do. So they go and try doing squats. They don’t care about alignment and form. They just do it because everyone else is doing it. These people are not artists. Most gym goers just want six-pack abs and a nice butt. 

They will do crunches and leg raises every day. On occasion they will randomly insert squats for the glutei. They don’t give their muscles any time to recover. They do not even try to find out what other exercise help develop the abdominal muscles or the glutei. They sculpt without knowledge or understanding. I do not consider these people artists. There is nothing wrong with wanting abs and a nice butt. I want six pack abs and a good butt as well. I just wouldn’t consider that art. Not everyone that goes to the gym is an artist.
First painting 
When I was in grade eight I painted on a canvas. I thought, and still think, it is beautiful. It hangs over my headboard even today. My cousin does not think it is a particularly beautiful piece of painting but he understands why I have hung it there; the emotions. I am colorblind. That does not mean I do not see colors. It means I cannot distinguish between certain colors. The way someone like me sees the world is very different from someone who is not colorblind. For example, I do not see seven colors in a rainbow. On a good day I can distinguish three or four colors. The canvas that I painted was in color. When I painted it, I did not spend time trying to use the right color (whatever that was), I simply used colors that felt right. 

I may not have painted the grass green, or a broken branch brown (to this day I do not know what color a broken branch is), but the intention was to do so. To me, THAT is what is essential in art, intention. When you go to the gym with the intention of sculpting your body, with the intention of creating art, you are walking the path of being an artist.

I hope the reader does not interpret this as an article about how to work-out and how to be a bodybuilder. I do not have the credibility to teach anybody about that field. I am not a bodybuilder or a gym instructor. I am not one of those brawny people that lift so heavy in the gym that it intimidates everyone else around them. I am not even one of those “ripped” guys that most men (including me) envy. I am just a regular guy who goes to the gym to sculpt his body.

Struggling artist 
I am a struggling artist. I go to the gym aware of what my body looks like and what I want my body to look like. In addition to that, I work out in such a manner that it helps me create the body that I treasure. There is clear intention in my workout. My artwork is not complete. It is nowhere near completion, but I still consider myself a struggling artist. 

As I am writing this, I am wondering if I hold any legitimate authority to be talking about bodybuilding as an art. Who am I? I am an admirer of art and a struggling artist. I am a member of the art community and this gives me enough credibility to discuss what (in my opinion) art is and who is an artist. The reader may disagree. The reader may not even care. Regardless of how the reader feels, I encourage him/her to introspect. I encourage them to think about what art means them.


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