By Gul Thakur
There will never be a true definition of art that everyone agrees on. There will also not be a piece of art that everyone calls ‘aesthetically’ pleasing to the eye. We often take advantage of the word ‘artistic’ because of how it's been used in the world today. From something as small as a heart shaped cream design in a coffee, to the Mona Lisa are all categorised as artistic, so where do we draw the line between being honest in our expression and being artistic in our expression?
I could say art is an escape in my life but the truth is it’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at. If I ever failed at something, it always had my back. It could be used as an excuse to escape your not so interesting life. An excuse to say that you’re a spiritual person who’s trying something new, they aren’t already used to. It’s used as an excuse to be spectacular and call yourself an ‘artist.’ We label ourselves with that word to give ourselves an identity. I see people in their mid 40s inviting me to their exhibitions, and when I do ask them why they paint I get the same response “it makes me feel at peace”, "I discovered who I am through painting”. Is that how we feel, or do we tell ourselves that to live up to the word ‘artistic’? Today we believe that everything we do in life has a reason behind it. The same way every design, and every painting has a deeper meaning behind it, or an intriguing story that makes a piece of art all the more interesting. It's what draws people in.
Art school teachers often asked me why I painted what I did. Sometimes I'd be able to answer fast, other times I'd ask myself – What is the meaning behind this? Why did I paint it? What do these elements mean? There were two options; I could make up a story that would have my teachers and the audience stand back in awe of what I have to say, or I could tell the truth – I painted it because it looked good, I liked the colours I used. But that's not interesting, is it? That's not what's going to impress my teachers, make people buy my work or critique it. This leads me to question; does everything have to have a story behind it? Does it sound more artsy if I do? Ultimately, it’s a battle between appreciating art for the way it looks versus appreciating art after you know the message or the story behind it. Not every art piece has a story to tell. Sometimes it just is what it is and there can be beauty in that as well.
Society has made us believe that art could answer a lot of our problems, but we never really ask ourselves as artists why we really do it? I can’t conclude on a definition of art, but at its core, art is expression. However expression isn’t one dimensional, it isn’t always structured or pre-meditated. It’s not always beautiful or aesthetically pleasing. Yet it’s hard to separate the act of painting and expressing from the profession of being an artist. Sometimes expression is meaningless, but you have to give it a meaning for it to fit into the system of art. At the same time, we aren’t always honest with ourselves and it’s like we hide behind our art. It really comes back to what we choose and if we’re making this choice for someone else, our expression will always be for an audience.Next time you think about your passions, ask yourselves, who you are really doing it for?
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