Monday, December 27, 2010

I don't get art

And if it makes me a simpleton, then I am one.

I do realize that "art" itself is a term too general, covering from pieces of music to ceramic vases to aurora borealis. Some of those, I do get. But when we're talking fine art, say painting, I can confidently say here that I don't get them. (I daresay if you ask me again in a posher event you'll find me nodding along the snobs).

I don't get, for example, why a bunch of sunflowers in a vase painted in a canvas can fetch millions. The one painted by van Gogh are not even painted in perspective.

I don't get, for an even bizarre example, what seemingly as odd collection of organs in clashing colors would beckon someone to open his wallet in an effort to exhibit it in his study.

I can go on and on and on.

When I compare that with other work of art, I rather thought it is because the minimal time of appreciation required for a painting is, well, minimal. Say a piece of "modern" music, which has been lamented as catering only to ADD generation, spanning not more than 5 minutes per track, they still require exactly that. Five minutes for a full listen.

In another hand, you can glance a painting for three seconds and be done with it already.

Compare that with a book. How many books are there that you can finish in a single sitting? And that's just for a one-time reading. Short stories are shorter and yet they still require more time to appreciate.

Then there's the ability to inspire. Some music would move your hands involuntarily for an airdrum. Some would reduce you to tears. Others, warm your cloudy days (or nudge you to suicide). Still others would enrage.

Not so with painting. Have you ever heard someone called to dance after watching a painting of people dancing? Have you ever feel that you would like to kiss your love after watching a painting? And surely we can make do already with all the idyllic painting of greens in the world?

The best that you can get maybe is a feeling of longing, if it depicts something of a distant and unreachable past. Maybe the paintings of greens will be even more valuable in 2050, when all Earth is barren post nuclear winter. If mankind still survives, that is.

Still, for all its limited ability, how can they command such price? I don't think I've ever heard a piece of music being auctioned and make headlines for the bagful of money it's being sold at.

Then there's also the matter of expression. If you read me lashing about paintings of lazy grasses, that's because I don't get it. What are they supposed to say? "Wouldn't it be good to frolick under the sun, enveloped by summer warmth?" That we can do in public park. Unnecessary at best, noisy at worst.

Perhaps paintings is the best embodiment of art for art's sake. Highly subjective, and its biggest value is in the making. Yes, I'll just go back to bed and a good happy new year to you.

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