As I’ve been rendering some of my favourite images again to add to the Zazzle store, I started to remember the days when I was first invited to participate in art exhibitions (10 years ago?), and this idea of “what is art?” came back to my mind again after all these years.
When I was invited for my very first exhibition, I was asked to “define my art” so it could be added to my “resumé”. I found this to be a very difficult task (not only because it was the first time I had to do it) and tried to avoid this as much as I could, but eventually I had to write a short text trying to describe “my art”. 10 years later, I still can’t do it. Because it shouldn’t be defined. And I still think that my art is the same, its definition hasn’t and will not ever change over the years. Because there isn’t and shouldn’t be a definition or explanation for it.
For sure it would be easy for me and “cool” to write a text full of weird words and clichés, but I would pretty much be like everybody else in this “niche” (there goes a cool word for you all!) so to speak. And my art shouldn’t be like everybody else’s art, it should be “my art”, not a concept or a definition. If you sum it up to a few fancy words and tags, you end up making it look like the canned meat you buy at the supermarket, one can is like the other, same content, same taste, same price. My art is unique. And so is everybody else’s. Every artist is unique. Every art consummer (not a good word, sorry…) is unique.
Very often musicians and composers are asked to explain what a certain song is about, how was the composing process, what was the inspiration for that specific song, etc. And how many times are we surprised to know that a certain amazing song that was “the soundtrack of my life” or that “describes me perfectly” was made in a rush, with no serious intentions, or else that it had a very different meaning than we thought it had? I bet that it happens a lot. I remembered 2 stories about this, kind of unrelated to the subject of this post but not that much…:
Paul McCartney started sketching the ideas for the song “Yesterday”, but he couldn’t figure a name for it yet (neither the lyrics were done yet, I suppose). He just wrote on a piece of paper a random name so that he could remember he was writing a possible song and should continue working on that later. And the name he gave to that pre-song was “scrambled eggs” (I think it was close to breakfast time or something). What if the next day he thought it would be just a silly idea or something or couldn’t remember what it was and abandoned it? His masterpiece (well, it’s his most played song at least…) would have never existed.
The Rolling Stones were basically a cover band in their beginnings. Once they were asked to write a song… well… actually they were forced to do it. They were locked in a kitchen (so they say) and were told by their producer at the time to not come out of that place without a song (or songs) of their own. And… Satisfaction was born.
OK, back to the subject. These songs, if described as how they were created, may sound silly. But they are 2 classics. If they are “explained” (and the creation process is part of an explanation in my opinion), they lose a lot of their importance, if you consider that one was made and named after a breakfast, and the other was made purely because it was their job to do a song. The same happens to any form of art – when it’s “explained”, it might lose its meaning to the observer. He, the observer (or the consummer? Not a good word to use again I guess) is the only one that should – internally or externally – explain and define it, and tell what it means or if it means something to him to others or not if he wants to share his definition of that art (he knows what it means to him anyway, so who cares?).
To me, that is what is most important – that the art, in whatever form it is, be important to someone else, that it can be liked (or not…), be seen, be enjoyed, shared, talked about, that it can cause some impact on someone else in any way, good or bad. If you look at a painting or listen to a song and it means nothing to you, to you, that painting/song isn’t art.
After all, it seems I could finally define my art. Or at least define what it’s not. And it’s not a definition.