So, I’m thinking about art. What is it? That sounds like a simple, trite question. But, if you think about it long enough, it can get quite profound. Tolstoy wrote about the infectiousness of art in his book, What Is Art? He sees art as a means of connection between people, like a sort of dialogue, but only much deeper than that. It’s an empathic activity. Ponder the emotions your favourite piece of art evoke within you. What is this? It’s like you know the artist even if you don’t, in actuality, know the artist, isn’t it?
“A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
And so, art seems to me, essential to the human condition. It soothes our deep abiding need for a connection with others and ourselves. As an artist, the creation of art is so very self-elucidating and expressive. As a receiver, I capture that part of the artist’s soul which she left in her artwork. It’s what gives the art it’s consciousness, I believe. Art channels culture, lifetimes, history. It’s a form of time travel, if you will. So, what makes art powerful? I believe it’s the passion, the drive, the hunger with which the artist creates it. Tolstoy refers to this as sincerity. Rilke, in Letters To A Young Poet, advised the young poet that he should write for himself, not for any audience. Art is a deep, visceral form of expression. It’s life-giving, like breathing, for many. It’s at it’s best when it’s not help captive by what the artist thinks s/he should create. Thinking becomes the plague, then. So, if art is an exercise in empathy for the receiver, then it is an exercise in mindfulness for the artist, isn’t it?