𝐀𝐌𝐈𝐃𝐒𝐓 𝐁𝐄𝐀𝐔𝐓𝐈𝐅𝐔𝐋 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐒
I do not have any academic nor professional training in art. My articulation of what art is a function of my layman’s instinctual appreciation of things beautiful against the ugly; both in the figurative and abstract manifestations as my senses perceive it in any given situation and space, at any given time. All I know is how to think and write, and write and think. Art is what I feel. If I feel it, I can think it. If I think it, I can write it. Writing is my art, my artistic expression. Writing is what I do; all attributable to my academic training.
WORKPLACE OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS
People do from time to time visit museums of all kinds for all kinds of recreational, educational, and research reasons. I work at Norway’s Nasjonalmuseet. The institution has proved to be an awesome literary creative’s wet dream for me as an author and poet. I get at least one goosebumps moment each day I am at work. Tens of thousands of works of art are on display throughout the eighty-nine exhibition spaces at the museum. In all their widely variable expressive forms, these artworks move me in a way that ever fills me with love and joy like I have never experienced before. Working here is a privilege I am much grateful for.
At different points in about all the exhibition spaces in the museum, there are rest stations comprising benches upon extensions of which are placed, amongst other items, wooden playing cards. The cards have various quizzes and games for the guests to have a go at as they sit and rest. I, together with Ole, a fine but ever condescending colleague young enough to be my grandson, happened to have been engaged in a discussion about various aspects of the museum when we approached one such station. Ole then unexpectedly reached out and randomly pulled out a card from the bench extension. It turned out to be a quiz card with the question: ‘What is Art?’; creating a gotcha moment that I saw Ole revelling in.
Talking about Ole’s gotcha moment, this was yet another one of those moments in which a person of European extraction comes to me with the pre-conditioned notion that Black people are not cultivated enough to appreciate the finer aspects of European culture. Anyhow, my immediate response, in this case, was, “Art is the capturing of an experiential moment in time and space in order to, perhaps, tell a story about that experience in the future. This capture can be in any form or medium according to the proclivities and talents of the artist.”
Ole, “I hear you. But you will have to elaborate more on all that you have just said!”
Seeing as we had to attend to each of our respective duties at work then, I replied, “I shall write an essay for you, then. Deal?”
My definition of art shall be both conceptual and functional. Conceptually, I know art when I perceive it. I do not have to be told. I do not have to be instructed. I know art when my senses register it. Regardless of the representational form, the sentimental response that I get from experiencing any manifestation of art that I consider as beautiful is a constant. Conversely, an unattractive, unpleasant artistic form as I experience it emotionally affects me in the same way relevant to it irrespective of the form or the representational style.
Whenever I read a storybook (or even write one) that I enjoy, my breathing rate slows down, and the total bodily relaxation I get gives me a wonderful warm feeling all over; I get goosebumps, and my palms get warmer and moist. This kind of feeling brings me immense joy. The dreamy state it gets me into sends me into a fantasy world of all things possible. If I had been, for one reason or another, going through hard times, this state brings hope home; it fills me with a sweet sense of freedom. In this state, I am invincible. This is my subjective domain for defining what beautiful art is for me as my perceptive senses – eyes, ears, skin, tongue, nose, intuition – register it, feed my hormonal system (feel-good hormones), and the latter instructing my nervous system to induce my being to act accordingly. Pure joy.
Whilst recognizing it for what it is, art that is repugnant to me is exactly that. If it makes me cringe, if it casts a shadow of pessimism over me, if it fills me with negative thoughts and associations, if it gives me a cold sweat, then it is bad art for me. There are times when I can see beauty in bad, ugly art, though. I think about the hands, or some other body parts, that created the work. Every hand shall tell its story according to its owner’s neuro-hormonal wiring and physical capabilities. One man’s apparent gory art may be another’s depiction of heaven. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Functionally, art is a conveyor of messages, a storyteller; a courier of generational narratives in humanity’s dances with nature and itself over time. Art can be an instrument of change. Art can repair the once broken. Art can inspire hope, faith, trust, and love. To the extent that art is a personal expression, art may speak for its creator. Art creators have the potential to make or break society. Ask God, man’s most divisive, master-of-carnage creation. God may have created man instead, her most complex work of art. The outcome is not any better.
Art is identity. Identity may be deception obscured in art. From the outset, art may be true by intent and purpose. But when human perception and interpretation of reality are as polychotomous as there are so many people on earth, art shall be true or fallacious as to the perceptive state and cognitive capacity of the observer. Therein lies the mystique, the intrigue of art. Who am I? I am a man in love with art.
Art is some powerful stuff. Art is a human creative potential deserving to be handled with tender, loving care. At its best, art is an instrument of peace; art has the potential to stimulate reflection on the human condition. We rise, we fall; art captures all that. Art is beauty. Without beauty, life is not worth living.
Beauty moves humanity forward and higher on the scale of qualitative and quantitative improvements in life. It is not for nothing that nations of the world, interest organizations of all sorts and sizes, wealthy individuals, and many others invest heavily in the promotion, conservation, preservation, and storage of some of our most impactful artworks over the epochs into the future. Art immortalizes human experience.
April 07, 2023
RECOMMENDATION: Do you want to start writing own blog or website? Try WordPress!
Order, read, and be inspired by my latest and 9th book, 2nd poetry volume, MACHONA GRIT: Onslaught on Hate