Differentiating between art and absurdity

Most extrovert millennials channel their energies and opinions in social media platforms, their private thoughts in journals, or even use colouring books. It is the primal human instinct to convey their ideas that create art whether it be elemental or elaborate. Art is as old as time itself and will outlive it, beginning with stone implements and cave paintings and now comforting us all. Some may assume that the best art is defined in terms of beauty but the value of art is in its interpretation. The most popular pieces of art either relate to the largest population or are understood favourably by a significant personality. As Nietzsche said, art is the highest task and the proper metaphysical activity of this life. The heart of art is an idea and its mind is a technique, it has traversed maps and calendars from the point of capturing reality to now where it reveals the surreal. Optimists may say it is a romantic shift that at higher levels the idea is primary. Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhorse is a renowned painting as simple as it may get, it is not the soup can that fascinates viewers but the fact that an artist took it up as the subject. The Guggenheim Museum of Catalonia is a standing testament of modern art, with two stunning works to prove it. At the entry is Maman, the 9 feet tall spider which arguably has the same juxtaposition as David by Michelangelo. Maman is a lethal spider with delicate but strong legs to trap insects and has a fragile but enormous abdomen carrying eggs, the sign of life. In David's frail arms pulsating veins are showing his anticipation to kill Goliath. The message is just the same yet entirely different for those who analyse them. The second is Yves Klein's swimming pool painting displayed on the floor giving the illusion of depth. Art these days is about an honest expression of feelings, the success mantra of both Bukowski and Picasso.

It is abstract; it is calculated

At times a visit to a contemporary art museum especially if it's of the New York style may elicit reactions like, "I scribbled stuff like this back in 3rd grade." Abstract expressionism was a release for artists during World War 2, it has an all-over composition with multiple focal points. The purpose of these bold strokes is to imbibe emotion and evoke them, irrespective of the time and context. For instance, Willem de Kooning's Travestied women when released reminded people of families who had lost their loved ones in war, today queers see it as a demonstration of their identity and to most, it is a lady of their lives. Abstract art is not necessarily born out of emotion, it might begin as a reprieve from boredom and later materialise into something. These imprints of the mind drawn by Pollock and other painters are important as they were audacious enough to destroy existing conventions. It is these unconscious and arbitrary brushstrokes that gained abstract art its fame. Another famous work, every living knows about is 'The Starry Night' by Vincent Van Gogh, the artist who cut off his ear when he lost a bet. It has swirling brushstrokes creating eddies like stars and clouds, perfectly reflecting water ripples. This craft of fluid dynamics had the brightest minds in a fix, it was accurately depicted by Van Gogh. Leonardo da Vinci made the Vitruvian man based on the Golden ratio (1.618) and Mona Lisa's focal point following the Fibonacci number's square. The Last Supper can be divided into three sections, the centre part with Jesus exhibiting the science of the Golden ratio. Vinci's eyes saw in everything a pattern, explainable in maths and the merit of this painting is based on calculation. Most art classes begin their lessons with perspectives, as it is the most important factor in a landscape sketch. So the vanishing point serves as the subconscious focal point of a drawing, proper attention to which blows the life-like impressions. The mysterious smile of Mona Lisa is not only a product of sfumato (abstracts smudging) but is calculated scheming to enamour us.

A subtle social message

Art is a medium to give society a message they may not accept otherwise. Speech and blogging require articulate phrases which can be avoided in art, the artist might put one little line or curve and the whole meaning is revealed to the clever eye. While the original Mona Lisa smiles, there is a Mona Lisa of the North '' which does not, but looks no less charming. The girl with the pearl earring, by Vermeer, is one of the most beautiful paintings of all time demonstrating his command of foreshortening. Traditional subjects of portraiture were often nobility or religious figures but this divine girl is anonymous. He emphasised the beauty of the ordinary, choosing everyday events as the setting. The oriental turban worn by the girl symbolised the worldliness of the merchant class and the pearl itself a symbol of wealth is an exaggeration. In the Netherlands, no regular person could afford a real pearl of its size. It is this mirage of wealth that makes onlookers wonder about the unequal society. In an enigmatic way, the painting represents the consequences of social division at the same time giving birth to a modern perspective on economics, politics and love.

Expressing the unadulterated

As Keats said, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. But there have been times when artists have strived to immortalise their fears, insecurities and frustration. These pieces are fantastic of their own as they make viewers feel less alone. It creates a sense of solidarity among those who are alienated by their thoughts. Fransisco de Goya's dark paintings are supposed to be the 'most disturbing' series of artwork ever made. Like a phantasmagorical form of interior designing, they were painted on the walls of his farmhouse. The gory picture of Cronus feasting on the carcass of his son was on the dining room wall. Unlike previous depictions of the scene, the sun is portrayed as an adult and conscious with the fingers of Cronus digging into its ribs. Some visitors are unable to look at this painting when they visit the Prado museum. The boggled eyes of Cronus do not appear evil but "kind of shocked at his own monstrousness." He was a man of the people who loathed the mob. This darkness is not only on canvas but is a reflection of the grotesque and insane part inside us. It perfectly does the job of comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable. Frida Kahlo is another such artist (famous for her unibrow) whose paintings were a tool of expression, a road for visually translating her emotions, memories and complex thoughts. "Without hope" shows her desperation when she was bedridden with a candied skull and desert illuminated by both the sun and the moon emanating from her mouth. This devastating surrealism was her signature, in another one titled "The two Fridas" we see her transformation post-separation from husband Diego Rivera. The two identities are connected at their heart and one artery is cut open, the blood staining her pristine white gown. This kind of stimulating imagery has enchanted audiences around the globe with its raw emotional appeal. Art is everywhere, what we see and do, is proof of our individuality and opinion. It is as fundamental as breathing and a medium of expressing what can't be said in words alone, as Nietzsche said, "We have art in order not to die of the truth." 

.   .   .