What Makes Art Stay With You Forever

Pic Courtesy: Eri Panci

‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have’, said Maya Angelou. ‘Reality leaves a lot to imagination,’ said John Lennon. Both observations make an unarguable point that creativity and life are linked together simply because we exist. The human condition remains the only reality we are certain of, and yet it is one that we are unable to wholly embrace. It has been the burden of artists to portray the unvoiced lament of humans; Gustav Klimt’s Pallas Athena (1898) has the goddess of wisdom glare authoritatively out of the painting, thus embodying female strength in a male dominated world.  At the cost of sounding dramatic, one can say that art is the bridge between the world that is unseen and the world we live in and sometimes or often the lines blur. Moreover, it also serves as a photographic memoir of the past and enables us to travel to a time long past.

        The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) by Jan Van Eyck is informative of fifteenth century society due to its use of symbolism in the details. We can assume that the couple in the picture were making a statement about their marriage, their status and wealth. On the other hand, artists have also often been ahead of their times, like American portrait artist, John Singer Sargent’s painting Madame X that created a scandal (in 1884) due to the seductively fallen strap of his muse’s black gown. The journey of art is so intricately woven with the history of man and the changing cultural climate over the centuries, that not only does art forge an indelible impression in the viewer’s mind, but art works are inevitably carried into posterity because of the artists’ abilities to conduct multi dimensional exposés into human nature, a lifelong endeavour for most.

         “I am happy to be alive, as long as I paint,” said Frida Kahlo echoing, probably, the sentiment of all artists. It has to be mentioned here that art patrons, who live and breathe art, and understand the value of art work, have made large contributions to the statement that ‘art is forever.’ The now famous art collector Charles Saatchi, who donated his collection to the public at the Saatchi gallery in Chelsea, London, and Peggy Guggenheim from New York who gave impetus to several new artists are two among many who believed that art is too precious to be enjoyed in solitude. The world of art has an ever-changing and ever evolving retinue of artists and viewers alike that defy time and human frailty. I rest my case with a reference to The Persistence of Memory; Dali’s painting of a desert littered with melting timepieces. Dali used clocks to emphasize the irony of time in context to our subconscious. The clocks are melting; they are unreal, irrelevant. Art is but an expression of that surreal state, a constant part of our existence, inseparable from our core, ever present by our side.

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