On Art

Art, as they say, is in “the eye of the beholder”. Or is that about beauty, or perhaps love? No matter. I think they are all in as much the same. This essay comes from a dear friend, who in my opinion describes this illusive, magical topic way better than I can. I think he captures it….

So much has been claimed in the name of “Art”…

So much has been said. The word has been bandied about and used for everything from the arcane to the mundane. The occult to the operation of a backhoe. Art is a language, a visual language. Just as English, French and Mongolian are  spoken means of passing information from one person to another. There are so many such languages, aren’t there? Just because an English or Japanese person doesn’t understand Mongolian does that mean it is any less of a means of communication? Of course not. And then there are dialects. In so many cases, the same language, as spoken in one area of a country is almost unintelligible in another. Yet it is the same language. Are we beginning to get a picture here?

The language of art is divided up in so many ways. The languages of art are many  and varied. Not just by country and area but by history, by movement, by group and most of all, by individual. Each artist is a dialect. How is any understanding possible?

Art is many things. In some cases it is a form of recording the world around us, or enhancing it, portraying some scene that shows us a place we’ve never seen or reminds us of one we have, whether for personal pleasure or political agendas. Sometimes it is delving into the spirit and soul that moves us. Attempting to under- stand the grand themes that run through our lives, love, hate, survival, ambition, fear.

In art, the things we see, feel, the things and ways we think, everything about us  and our universe is transfigured in ways that distill the experience of life such that our awareness and understanding is enhanced. Sometimes this is simply a matter of enhancing colours, changing the position of a tree, removing things from a scene. Sometimes it is a matter of extending much farther, delving much deeper, into what lies beneath the surface.

Here’s another thought for you. Art is the means of providing a new way of seeing. That’s not a new way of looking at something, but a new way our brains process  and interpret the visual information provided by our eyes. In this light Cubism comes to mind, where the commonplace has been dramatically transfigured.

If a work of art moves you, be it visual, sound or feeling, it is for connections                         deep within. If not, then your connections lie elsewhere….

Clif Dawson: www.clifdawson.ca

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