Death of Aesthetics
Have you ever wondered what is it that makes a painting great? Why are some artworks so admired by art lovers and art critics? What qualities possess certain paintings that make us feel so passionate about them?
Well, a very loose definition of a good artwork would be that it has to possess a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, something inexplicable that captivates us, moves us, or pleases us. It has to be something quite hard to explain., hard to define and hard to describe.
As an artist, I wanted to investigate this matter further and analyze this mysterious trait of what makes a painting great. It was vital for me to understand this, as I wanted to be able to create great paintings.
After studying art for several years I carried on conducting my own research into this, through my work, and eventually reached the following conclusions:
– A great painting has to have powerful visual content and very often also an emotional one. Both are important, and the combination of these two elements is essential if you as an artist wish to create an amazing painting. And because we are dealing with visual art, I believe that the visual side is more important.
In other words, if the aesthetic side is neglected, the work is not going to be a great masterpiece. For example, a painting of a cat is going to appeal to us because we love cats, so it will address to our emotions- but we only going to consider it a great painting it if it will be painted in a skillful and original manner. A painting of ocean waves will attract our attention because we are so captivated by greatness of the ocean but we are only going to like it depending on how the artist has treated the subject, how he used various colours and textures to present it to us.
We will also appreciate a more abstract canvas which doesn’t necessarily have an emotional content, but it indulges our eyes with a variety of interesting textures, lines, shades, contrasts. Thus, one can create a fantastic artwork without necessarily addressing our emotions but just our senses. And, I don’t think that the lack of an idea behind such painting would make it a less valid artwork
Because we call it visual art the aesthetic side of a painting is more important then the emotional one. These days, many contemporary artists encouraged by formal contemporary art institutions will exhibit ordinary objects, like old dirty boots, old and rusty working tools, or some other mundane or even disgusting items and call them ‘artworks’. You can sometimes find in an exhibition of contemporary art a pile of stones, or…bricks or just some old papers exhibited as an artwork….Others exhibit gruesome, distorted animal parts, or other shocking objects trying to convey some dark and depressing messages.
Although this is undeniably a kind of communication, and it may make a deep impression on the audience, it seems to me that this is not real art but rather desperation. Perhaps desperate attempts to be remembered as an artist by shocking the audience, desperately trying to do something original. Other contemporary artists seem to have given up on art altogether and they just use it as an excuse to unload themselves of personal nightmares and other negative feelings… Such attempts to enroll art to convey such ideas and messages often end up not producing quality art, as the importance of the aesthetics is overlooked. They may produce shock and scandal, and achieve questionable and temporary fame, however they may not survive the test of time.
Artists should never forget that in order to produce long lasting visual art, one that will be appreciated for a long time, and by many generations, their visual art has to … visually pleasing.
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