All art is quite clueless…

Island Dreamin’  by T

What is art? every now and then i find myself posing such questions of a dangerously philosophical nature. The danger being that people will get that blank filmy look in their eyes and try to edge away from me in a sideways direction when i speak thus. This is why i have a blog.

‘All art is quite useless’ said Oscar Wilde, presumably right before he wrote ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’. Where, as anyone who has read it or watched the movie (pfft, you watched the movie?!) will know, a work of art did come extremely in handy to a certain Mr. Dorain Gray. But to the rest of us who do not immerse ourselves in black magic, what is the point of art?

Take this rather fetching painting. This painting reminds me of Jungle Beach back in Galle. So i sit and stare at it. But the colors are wrong. The lines are too mathematically verticle. Water is only that color in swimming pools. In ways, this painting is as far away from the Jungle Beach iv seen as the concepts of integrity are to most modern Sri Lankan politicians.

But in other ways it makes a sense of familiarity wash over me. The greenery, the small stretch of sand caught between steep cliff and deep sea. The rock and cosy pathways leading down to the beach from a cut in the mountains. I can remember  it all quite well when looking at this painting.

Its strange. So art draws me to the real while displaying only a depiction of it. Art is an exaction of cousciousness on what we usually define as reality. Art, tightly defined, is not art. Art exists in that fringe at the edge of your eyes. And like a man wandering the forests in the night looking out for lions (this might seem like a dubious metaphor till you watch ‘Man Vs. Wild; African Savannah’), your best chances of seeing art is by observing it from the edge of your vision so to speak. Looking at it directly and trying to define it through your rational axioms of reasoning will only render art meaningless.

I think art is undefinable, and that is mostly how you define it. Nature and reality as we see it is probably only a product of our minds. And nature as it exists objectively is probably colored so much by our subjective perceptions of it as to render it almost completely distorted.

Take a fly. How it sees the world is how you would see it of you looked through a kaliedascope all your life. Dogs, are attuned to hearing different things. Lizards can see in two different directions at the same time, probably creating some depth perception problems but still. These creatures’ senses are only adapted to their needs. We humans would be arrogant to assume we percieve objective reality in its pure form.

Take a fly. Now imagine you’re the fly.

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5 comments
  1. John said:

    At first I thought you were going to diss the painting, but alas, it was not to be 😀

    But I agree with you. Art does delve into your mind and pull out the most personal of memories. It’s all in the interpretation I guess. What you see is decided by what you have experienced so you are better able to relate to a picture.

  2. T said:

    Im not sure if i should be flattered that you “sit and stare” at my painting or if I’m insulted that you think the lines are too vertical 😛

    Ok here’s my two cents. When I think of art, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s subjective. The second is that everything is relative. The way you and I perceive things is as different as you and a fly (!)

    Bringing nature to life on canvas is a difficult task. It takes a certain level of skill and precision but also a certain perception of the ‘feeling’ of what you are drawing. I’ve seen perfectly executed nature scenes that make me go ‘omg s/he’s talented’ but nothing more, and I’ve seen children’s paintings of mountains or beaches that manage to evoke the sense of joy that he or she felt in that moment.

    Same with Impressionist paintings, which is a style I love. It’s not a replication or reproduction but it’s not something you pull out of thin air either. It’s part vision, part fact, like the way you’d see something if you were smoking some really good herb.

    When I look at my drawing, at a glance I could tell you 5 things that are wrong in it, ranging from angles to colour. But if you can look at it and feel something, if it brings back a memory or a moment, I’d be thrilled.

    Art is indeed how you define it; eye of the beholder, if you will. It’s not useless, but then again, that depends on how you perceive it 🙂

  3. Chavie said:

    Yeah I agree… Art is really how you perceive it. Art to someone might be a day-to-day thing for someone else. Kinda reminds me of bus art… 😀

  4. There’s a lot more to art… There’s fauvism, impressionism, surrealism, symbolism and so on…

    All done to capture something different. From trying to capture scenery- such as the painting in your post to capturing emotions, time or an idea.
    That being said, even the sorts brush strokes and materials used signify something.

    Fact is, it’s all very different and can only be made sense of by studying each form of art separately.

  5. I always thought art was a depiction of something real and sometimes not so real. Some art is meant to be accurate, but others are quite liberal and emphasize different aspects. There are no real rules and its all subjective.

    Just remember that your eyes are really low res sensors that produce ‘light readings’ which are processed and interpreted by your brain. That’s why sometimes you see things that aren’t there due to a trick of angle.

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