A great piece of art always kindles unusual emotions in us,something sublime that is difficult to express, that stirs our aesthetic sensibilities; something that inspires in us awe and exquisite or virtuous feelings that elevates us from our baseness. This I believe should be the purpose of every art work.
What works against this premise is that: we live in an age where it is easier to corrupt ourselves than to live a virtuous life without profits. What results thereby is that an artist is more inspired by the sordid details which he thus wants to portray because they are akin to reality. And the worst I believe is that he leaves the utterly confused audience to interpret his work, who being slightly less refined than the artist, are at a loss to understand anything at all. Now shouldn’t this be the most important duty of an artist for the sake of the greater good? Because the audience is necessarily uninformed, it becomes even more important that the artist teaches it to appreciate the virtues. But sadly most artists do not care anymore. Our age appears more interested simply in demonstrating how to profit by misdeeds.
Once I met a photographer who having very little aptitude for photography had entered the profession because he considered it to be a lucrative business. He had availed himself of the costliest lenses with which he was able to click decent pictures, but which most of the time failed to win any encouraging responses from the audience. When I asked him about his idea of a good photograph, he said that as long as a picture stimulates any kind of feeling, be it good or bad, or even a hate mail for that purpose, it is a good picture. Well, I didn’t argue or try to explain him the purpose of art, now in this case it would naturally have been a waste of time! But then I was deeply upset by this attitude, which I realize is exhibited by most wannabes.
This is why an ancient piece of work is more valuable than what we seem to be manufacturing ready made these days. The ancients believed in producing art that was as beautiful as a tapestry created with utmost attention to details. There was no space left for the beholder to fill it up with diluted colours. Instead, it was designed, woven and coloured so intricately that one was inspired by its exquisiteness.
So, what I find lacking in art today is its inability to serve its purpose as an object of beauty and learning. And it has a debilitating effect on the younger minds, who are exposed to a degenerated quality of stimuli from which they derive their values. It is worth noting that when Abraham Lincoln was a child, his mother never read him fairy tales. On the contrary, she read and enacted the different themes from “The Pilgrim’s Progress”by John Bunyan, and sure enough this shaped the child’s future more handsomely than any fairy tale could have done.
What I also find a matter of apathy is that very few adults today would attempt to read, understand or discuss such works as “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. And this is because the readers or audience are bombarded with inadequate and insensible stuff that appeals to their baser instincts and impedes them from comprehending the true import of the great works of art.
I believe that artists are endowed with divine abilities and the art of creation is in itself a religious activity. It is a pity that this skill is put to devilish, unworthy and selfish motives.