Art Is Not About Beauty

The best moment ever when I put my life on hold in order to be behind a screen for a couple of hours or so. Living a different life, witnessing a story that isn’t mine. Sometimes I can relate to it. Most of the times, I’m mesmerized by it.

The other day, I was watching About Schmidt. It was a terrific film. I had the spark of the idea writing this post. What is art? Why do I close all the lights and sit in a dark room and stare at the TV screen for nearly two hours?

❝ Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? ❞

Jack Nicholson

I observed that a lot of people embrace art for its beauty and glamor. I used to do so. Recently, and by recently I mean the past couple of years, I realized that I knew nothing about art. I thought art is just a special occupation that some people have as a special hobby or talent. Art, used to be in my mind a beautiful painting, a wonderful piece of music, and a great movie. However, all of these things are not what art really is.

A scene from About Schmidt

Do you feel others?

Art is not about sorrow and sadness, and how this actor performed this scene and how that actor cried his heart out in that scene. It’s not always necessary to come out of a personal pain. If an artist wants to do so, he can write a memoir instead of writing a song or a piece of music, or performing a role in a film or play. It’s easy to articulate your own pain, not always, but it’s easy to put it out there for people to see. Art, simply, is more than this.

Art is supposed to know what others are feeling. People who are responsible of this task must differentiate between their need and urge to be an artist just for fame and money, and the need to be an artist to be a privileged human being. A human being who can let go of his self-absorption. Realizing that he’s not the only one who has pain, loss, and misfortune.

A scene from Scent of a Woman

Real artists should always proclaim to the world “I know your pain, I’ll put it out there for the world to see and feel. I will work hard to make everyone realizes that he’s not alone. That pain with its different colors and shapes is common and we will do our best not to underestimate it. You won’t be judged. We are in this together. We are celebrating our humanity by caring and feeling each other.”

If it is not about beauty, what is it about then?

Once a person experiences something in his life. The moment he feels it’s true and it’s not a dream. He feels like his life is becoming like a movie. However, this movie is real with a devastating burden. This particular moment, he feels it’s real. This pain he used to hear about and see on TV and in films is so real. He then realizes how true art is. That it wasn’t a waste of time. The hours he spent watching and watching weren’t fake. The music he used to listen to had something within he didn’t realize at the time.

The meaning behind everything we do in life is the most important thing. You don’t do anything if it has no purpose. Even wasting time and money on frivolous desires has a purpose, which is that you want a feeling out of this behavior or addiction. The meaning is the most important thing to be searched for in art. It is not necessary that it’s clear and obvious for the audience to notice, but it would be better that we make the audience search for it themselves. Art is all about the meaning. Why a composer writes a piece of music? Is it only for showing off? Does he only care that it must sound good? No. Why a script writer decides to waste his time writing a film? Is it only because he wants to do so? The answer might be yes for some cases. But let us focus on people who care about art, who deeply know that it’s substantially important to them and to the society. The answer then would be NO. He’s not writing for the sake of writing a film. This writer is writing something that you can find everywhere in your environment. If he’s writing about grief, it’s out there in the world. If he’s writing about love or hate, it’s in the air everywhere you go.

Each artist must have a meaning. Even if he is not aware of it, it’s there within his subconscious. The most important point is that articulating pain and grief is not a sin, and of course it’s not harmful to the soul. The thing is people, unfortunately, are treating pain as something that must be crushed and left behind. Their other overrated feelings are drifting them away from pain without feeling it, and giving it enough time. They want to be happy all the time. Each moment in their lives. But pain is something awful. As though pain is a shame. Consequently, they put too much pressure on themselves, which eventually leads them to depression and other psychological disorders.

❝ The actor becomes an emotional athlete. The process is painful – my personal life suffers. ❞

Al Pacino

Let’s talk comedy

I believe that most people underestimate the power of comedy. Some don’t consider it to be an art. I suppose they think art is only drama. With drama comes crying, sobbing, and whining. Since the post was about pain and art so far, I couldn’t digest the thought of not addressing the vital role of comedy in life. Personally, comedy was always there for me. The other day I was chatting with a friend how much I love comedy. How I think it’s a lifestyle. I explained how come it’s a lifestyle by confessing that I crack jokes most of the time. I even have the courage to crack jokes in my darkest moments. I can even joke on the most painful thing that bothers me the most. I laugh at it. Sometimes so hard too. People can’t take me seriously if I do that. They don’t even believe that I’m in serious pain because of my non-stop jokes.

❝ I’ve chosen to treat my life more like a party than something to stress about. ❞

Martin Short

Living in a comedy makes you forget everything that hurts you the most. This genre is found in movies, TV shows, and musicals. Sometimes you can find it in paintings too. I do believe that art has no limits, so you might find comedy in other shapes and frames. Who knows.

The way comedy treats life makes it easier for everyone to relate and reflect on. Nothing is better than a good laugh. People say that you should always smile, but I’m not a huge fan of this saying. Laughter is the power that brings the smile with it. I admire humans for creating comedy and attaching it to art. So many people think that art must be a brilliant photograph, a painting that nobody understands but people who are into painting, or a symphony. As though comedy is meant to be for people who know nothing about art, and they end up with comedy. A waste-timers indeed. Some miserable people like to call them clowns. As though “clowns” is something to be ashamed of. But here’s the truth, comedians are the ones that lift up our spirits. They make us forget all of our burdens and exhaustions. All the pain in this mad world is on pause when there’s a joke and someone laughing so hard at it.

At least most of us deeply believe that art is so close to us. If it was so close to our lives, how come that some think it’s all about aesthetics? What I know for sure that nobody has a beautiful perfect life. Maybe this might be true for a period of time in someone’s life, but still this cannot be one hundred percent true for all people throughout their whole lives. So, art is not supposed to be fake by misleading people to the absolute truth of being a human. The truth of having a life full of surprises. Imagine watching a film that someone is having a perfect life and everything is going nice and smooth. I don’t know about you, but if I was watching this film, I’d sue everyone who worked on that movie for wasting my time. Even if it was a comedy, something would definitely go wrong with the characters.

Featured image by Cherry Laithang 


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