I close my eyes and cover my face because it feels like I’m clutching at straws, and because I know I’m not the only one banging my head at this same old proverbial door. If one could see my mind’s eye, I assume, it would look like my physical eyes, tired and reddened from too many late night hours. Hitherto, art and “inspiration” can often be described as (and forever it will be) … a poisoned chalice to my grimacing lips. Sweet and richly rewarding, but also tempting and all consuming, like a labyrinth, luring you in, only to hold you there in a deluge of sometimes false insight and glimmers of hopes and truths that also sometimes disappear just as quickly as you reach out to grasp them.
The realms behind -
Could it be that art is something apart from us… that we remain the same simple beings, but that some of us are gifted with the ability to tap into this realm…? That the talents we possess are there to enable us to peel back our plain reality and existence to reveal what lies beyond it. And that the subject of this revelation is something apart from us, yet we are inexorably linked to it. That artists are simply some kind of strange gatekeepers to the intangible, interpreters of a realm beyond our grasp. But that all we do is the act – that Art simply is the act of revealing. I’ve asked the question before of ‘why we thank God for our own accomplishments’… well, it leads me to think of Michelangelo who said "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Some time ago I wrote a piece entitled “The Future of Art” which included a somewhat somber but no less hopeful and objective look at the art world; what it is now, compared to what it was.
It came to mind as I read a recent article by my friend David Martinez Romero (Here) in which he quotes Hegel stating that art has lost the immediacy it had in the glory days…
With this we’re led to the exploration of what art actually is, and why we feel the way we feel, because it has and always will be entwined with our emotions, as much as our imagination.
Now I have constantly ‘watched’ myself in the way I approach issues (not to be apologetic in my manner, but just self conscious) knowing that many or most people do not take things so seriously, but I am reassured when with my colleagues (other artists, writers) because it is our role to take these things seriously, because if we didn’t, who else would?
So what is art, essentially… and why is this important?
At its core, is creativity…
But more than that, it is ambitious, or inspirational creativity – encompassed by a goal, a desire to get there, to achieve something, to do,
to make… something that needs no other purpose, but to exist.
A work of art doesn’t need to inspire the onlooker, or invoke an emotion or feeling , because the world of art exists within the abstract.
To connect with something, or form something that cannot be fully defined and explored in the physical and finite world. Art exists because there exists within us the ability of abstract thought. That although we are finite beings (in one body/mind, living a mortal existence) we seem to have abilities that reach well beyond us –
But for what reason, what purpose?
And we might say that it is the link to the spiritual world (or a remnant, a clue to something more than this life – even if we choose to ignore it), the question alone is worth exploring… but being ready for whatever answer comes our way, this is another matter entirely, a matter which requires you to ready your heart. Mind you, to reach this place is not easy.
Why do we all have different talents and abilities? That one person has the ability to perform immense and complex equations whilst another can render a detailed and immaculate sketch – it comes across as an eerie kind of randomness. Precision and abstract beauty coming from each individual, like various colours making the tapestry of our humanity… viewed from close it looks like a mess, but step back and the image begins to make a little more sense.
But why does this exist? – Again the question is inspiration itself.
Of course artists may explore any issue, minute or infinite, material or intangible… all for his or her own pleasure, to explore the abilities they have found within, and though they may not know or understand why they have a particular talent, they are at peace with the fact that they have it, and that it in some way defines who they are or signals their purpose in this life.
I would put it to you that the creative ability we possess is merely a reflection of the same infinite ability present in our creator. He made us in his image, and just as we look around us, and the world, we see many things that apparently have little to no purpose (in our lives, other than aesthetic appeal), other than to simply exist. Mountains and embankments covered in new blossoms that on any given day can go unseen by human eyes, yet they are there, they exist, with or without our knowledge or sight.
Why did God make them, why did he make us?
Is it simply for his own pleasure?
Is that not why we create, for own pleasure and recognition, to distinguish ourselves from others?
Pleasure is present, but I am not saying that there will not be turmoil and pain within the process, that it will only be pleasurable, or that perhaps the results are not what you were looking for, or perhaps people misinterpret your work… Ask or study any great artist and I will guarantee that there was pain involved, depression, self doubt, lack of inspiration or any number of issues that come hand in hand with the process of creating something. It is usually a deluge of toil…
Some struggle, in the effort to experience something great, to catch a glimpse of something Godly, but if we were only to start with God first, and move from there (from Him), from that place of rest, and then explore the labyrinthine garden we call Art.
When exploring something such as creativity itself, then perhaps, is it not best to start with familiarizing ourselves with the inventor of the thing we wish to explore; in this case the Creator himself?
"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."
But perhaps, if we change the way we see things, change our vantage point, we might see this world differently. It feels like many artists sense things like they’re walking through a gallery, looking around or looking out and up… but maybe we could look at things from the outside in.
It may seem odd to define the art world as a confined space, as many would see it as something without limits, or that its only as limited as our minds make it to be… but my view is that art exists outside and apart from the human mind, “it” was there before us, it is beyond us…
Art is beyond expressionism, or application of human imaginative capability, or “creative activity”… I would propose that it is a means to access or reach into something which is essentially greater than us all.
I mean just think,
Art imitates life, art cannot exist without it,
and we are fearfully and wonderfully made...
Our form, our appearance, our design, is a work of sublime art,
hence we are to change our thinking, because we are exploring something that we ourselves are a part of, revealing and understanding our place in it...
- This writers opinion . . .