Picasso is said to have said: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” As well as: “Art is the lie that enables us to see the truth.”
I love both quotes a lot. Art indeed is a way of rinsing clean our souls. It helps us not only see clearly, but also enhances our own human essence. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
Art is always a lie, as it is a means of depicting something we cannot fully comprehend nor express and yet it leads us to our own personal, illusive “truth”, because art evokes emotions. Emotions we otherwise supress. Art breaks through to our core, tears down the walls and makes us feel things we had grown numb over.
With all that said, I also have my personal take on the purpose of art. To me the purpose is to connect what we call a “common external reality” with our “individual internal worlds”. In other words, it connects the world around us (the world of matter also referred to as “reality”) with our emotional worlds.
It is a way of expressing our dreams, fears and personal experience of the universal adventure we call “life”. In a way as artists, we invite “the outside world” in, to stirr us up to the point of exploitation, until we are no longer who we thought we were. Then once some time has passed, we are ready to leave our shell, hand in hand with our predator, telling a story that is both ours and theirs. A story that no longer belongs only to us.
Art is a process that is a constant dialogue between the outside and inside worlds. It is a form of communication by its very nature. It is a connector. Every language is a basic means of art. If you can communicate in any given language (including sign language), you are an artist. It´s just that the people we define as artists express in excess and take things to extremes. They showcase the places that are beyond what words can express.
I like to think that artists are often existentialists. They look at the world that surrounds them and try to understand it, knowing that they will never truly understand it. The truth out there, to come back to Picasso´s quote is not available to humankind. It will remain a puzzle. We learn that we just have to trust and that is hard to do! Art in a way is an outlet for expressing our own shortages. It is maybe also an attention seeking coping mechanism. We seek to be understood in our non understanding.
What´s funny is, that the actual art we create as human beings is a transcendental act. We display/share it in the outside world (the world of matter) where it will always be imperfect and some sort of a lie. An attempt to show what can´t be seen (trying to make our experiences accessible). Our art is always artificial. The process of creating art and the process of consuming art is belonging to the inside world however and will be an experience of truth. The only glimpses of truth available to us being the ones within our souls.
What´s more is, that whether it is the outside world or the inside world that is but an illusion, the experience of that said illusion is a matter of truth. I guess it has all been said before “Cogito, ergo sum“. 😉
I personally often find myself jumping onto various trains of thoughts in my day to day life. Wondering what the world outside is really like. I wonder if the stars (and the planets circling around them) are like atoms with their electrons circling around protons and neutrons. I wonder if galaxies are like molecules. A number of stars with their planets – bound together in complex structures. I want to understand, despite knowing that I never will.
I like to think of patterns in nature and comparing them against each other to find an ever present divine order. I love these kind of thinking processes as they put me at awe. It´s this sense of utter wonder as much as a sense of feeling tiny that inspires me a lot. That makes me want to explore and discover.
It was Immanuel Kant who described an aesthetic experience as a way of ascribing purpose where there is none. Through aesthetic judgments – he stated – beautiful objects appear to be ‘purposive without purpose’. Maybe we can think of it as trying to understand something we cannot comprehend in its entirety.
I find it´s like looking at a pretty piece of abstract art and having such a strong, attractive emotional reaction that despite the fact you cannot make a rhyme or reason, you want the piece to have purpose. You ascribe it meaning where there is none, or in simpler words, you experience a form of love.
It is a stimulation that lacks words and triggers our sense of wonder I think.
In that, art is an immitation of life itself but in a worshipping kind of way. Us artists, we take in the wonders of life, the in-comprehendable extend of love and truth that stirrs us up so much, we cannot help but share it with the world.
And likewise, art is a way of expressing our human sadness that comes from our littleness and non-understanding. We do not understand why we are alive or what for or who we are to begin with. I guess it is a form of prayer.
That´s why art is a necessity. It is the appreciation of life, the acknowledgement of our blindness and a pledge for love.