Occasionally a friend will tell us about a wonderful piece of music he has heard. And then we listen to it, and it does nothing for us. Or about a beautiful woman. And then we meet her. And she is nice. But not so beautiful. It happens all the time. And that’s what they mean when they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. When it comes to art, the same is true. If we see something we really like, it means that what we’re looking at or listening to, answers some question within us, or supports a point of view we already have. There is a link between us and the art. But what moves us, what inspires us, what calms our soul, won’t do the same for everybody. Its subjective. It’s a matter of taste.
There are so many reasons to become involved in art. Some wish to give expression to their thoughts, their ideas, their sense of beauty. Others want to find a way to connect to people. They find the words don’t come to them readily in social conversation. Maybe they are frustrated by conventional manners, or social expectations. In the creation of art, they are able to overcome certain difficulties or inhibitions that limit their ability to communicate.
Some people have been in a low down place, devoid of hope, tortured by the difficulties of life… and found courage, and sanity… sometimes even joy… in the work of an artist. And they wanted to pass it on; to help others as they have been helped. They want to be an artist like that artist that enlightened them. Some are lonely, or have little sense of self-worth, and are desperate for acknowledgement as a human being, or approval, or friendship, or respect.
Some artists find the pleasure in the act itself. They don’t have to be appreciated by others. It is enough for them to be satisfied with what they themselves have done. It is enough for them to feel good about their work. They can put it in a drawer, and not show it to anyone. Especially, if they’ve already had the experience of running around to gallery owners, or agents, or publishers, and being refused again and again.
By the look on facebook, or on some blog platforms, for some people, it is very important to be liked. The more likes the better. They will spend the better part of the morning, or the evening, handing out likes to others, if only to obtain a lot of likes on their own page. What are all those likes about? How many likes does one need in order to be satisfied. My guess is, that it is a chase after something that can never truly satisfy. And most of all, because not all of those likes are sincere. What we really need in this world, is a few people we can truly relate to. And relating to someone, takes quite a bit of work. A person with a thousand best friends might be suffering from a delusion.
But there are a select few, who can tell the story of a sunset, or the call of a wild animal, in such a way, that many others… even those who don’t know him or her, will feel a twinge in their own hearts and guts. When I was lonely, I used to find people like that, hidden within the covers of books in the local library. I would feel they were my friends though some of them had been dead for quite some time. I would follow them, trying to read all they had written… or to see all of their images, even though they were not flattered by my attention. And if they were alive, they didn’t even get a piece of cake out of it, because I’d discovered the book in the library and not paid to read it.
And then there’s art for arts sake. I always looked at that, as I would at a prayer. Something that transcends my own particular position or circumstances… something for which I don’t expect to get a reward… not necessarily meant for my friends’ ears. When I look or listen, or read art like that, I feel an affinity to the message in the art, and not that much to the artist. It doesn’t matter if he’s a drunk, selfish or anti-social. What gives pleasure is the art itself.