What is Art? Art is a creation born out of the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, for self-expression. The creative outcome is in a sensory form, such as painting, music, literature, dance or any other form that is experiential.
As Einstein said — “arts and sciences are branches of the same tree” and “we do art when we communicate through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind yet we intuitively recognise them as something meaningful”.
Is art necessary? Most of us know the feeling of being moved by a work of art, whether it is a song, a play, a poem, a novel, a painting, or an immersive experience. When we are touched deeply, we are moved. We are transported to a new sensibility and a sensitivity that is manifested physically in our bodies.
The viewer becomes aware of a feeling that, though may not seem unfamiliar, is one which definitely was not actively experienced before. That which brings about this transformative experience is what is called “ART.” Art can make a difference. Art does not show people what to do. Yet engaging with a good work of art can connect the viewer to their own senses, body, and mind. It can make the world feel “felt.” And this feeling of “felt”, most times spurs thinking and engagement, which in turn results in action. Art can definitely act as a catalyst and motivate the viewer for action.
Art is capable of mitigating the numbing effect created by the glut of information we are faced overwhelmed with today and motivate people to think, reflect and, hopefully, be compelled enough into action.
Engaging with art is kaleidoscopic. Sometimes it is a solitary journey of reflection. At other times, it’s a shared experience that sharpens one’s sensitivity to fellow beings or enhances bonding in a community celebration.
The arts and culture represent one of the few areas in our society where people can come together to share an experience even if they see the world in ways that are radically different.
The interesting thing about it is that we may not agree about the experience that we share, but we consider it worthwhile to share. And that itself is enough. Just as our thumbprint is unique, our experiences are personal and different.
Hence, an artwork is perceived and experienced differently by a group of viewers and the disagreement on it is accepted and enjoyed. While that in itself may not amount to much, the fact that there is communication on a shared experience is enough. Especially in the chaotic and divisive times that we live in.
The differences are embraced as an essential ingredient to push one’s boundaries, heighten one’s level of empathy and broaden ‘the other’s’ viewpoint.
In this sense, the community created by arts and culture is potentially a great source of inspiration to transcend the polarising populism and stigmatisation of other people, positions, and worldviews that is sadly so endemic in public discourses today. Art also encourages us to cherish intuition, uncertainty and creativity, compelling us to search constantly for new ideas. It encourages artists to break rules and find unorthodox ways of approaching contemporary issues and concerns.
Art is not an accessory but an anchor
Art is a catalyst, an influencer
Art is the heart of a civilisation
Like Vincent Scully commented about architecture, to me, the definition fits Art too, “a continued dialogue between generations, which creates an environment across time,” and overflowing information.
(Sonal Motla has curated Kala Ghoda 2020 with development and art as a theme and is currently working towards the issues on education on art, craft and design with a few educational institutions. Send your feedback to: email@example.com)
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)