Syed Iqbal Geoffrey born 1939 was a Pakistani abstract painter, whose work is based on a fusion of ancient Eastern and modern Western traditions. His manifesto of do’s and don’ts in artistic practices was published in Dawn Newspaper on 15 March 1991.
Iqbal Geoffrey’s Manifesto: 14 Golden Rules
1. All great art has been post contemporary, looking into the future. The one constant of art has been that of change…..
2. The subject matter, size and material used in a work of art are not very relevant
3. What an artist does is art. The idea in my mind is art. It doesn’t need expression. An artist as a genius knows when to stop. Everyone can paint a great picture: it is the knowledge of when to stop that separates ‘men’ from ‘boys’.
4. Do not trust dealers or brokers. The have their own axe to grind.
5. Ugly can be beau tiful (note: when I mistype, that is art) but not kitsch or the merely decorative. Art always appals at the first encounter. Then it appeals to us gradually.
6. What matters is your own response. If a work of art appals you, go back to it. Probably, it is art. There are no regrets. Always feel that you can live with a painting for, say, at least a month
7. How come no worthy artist has, as such, graduated from any art school? Pygmies are training mice to become pygmies, and they graduate as popes of the pompous.
8. Critics save the best for history…
9. With the exception of three, highly-priced artists never survive the scrutiny of history.
10. Prices are forged by legends. Van Gogh would cost 1/100 as much if he did not slice off his ear
11. Don’t fall for ‘International Reputations’
12. The fame of the artist is not the controlling factor. Fashions pass. No great collector purchases works of art to make profits.
13. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be too timid to be properly ashamed of the cute, decorative, ugly things and the stereotype landscapes you bought in the past
14. There is no such thing as ‘Pakistani painting’. Mediocrity has been so-cliched by the art mafia which controls bored housewives and dowagers of nouveau-riche households. These people have been swindled of up to 5 crores and have been sold useless decoration stuff. This is worthless in the market of international ideas.
Do not be afraid. Make your own selection after studying the work. Occasionally feel free to ignore the above rules (at your own risk.) Just remember, truly great contemporary art does not cost a bundle.