The Aesthetic Form of Art


Can we ever give a single definition for art? Can we say this is an art, but the other is not? If art is, just, reflective, can it still be art?

Recently, I had a long argument on a particular perspective of Art with a friend. Since the discussion was over the phone (which I am deeply grateful for), it ended in an open bracket with neither of us giving our intended conclusion. At least on my part. The question on the table was whether every piece of art can become a source of moral guidance. Or a true reference of a principle we would like to acquire. I would say, definitely not.

Passion, emotion, and an analytical mind make a grand combination for curating any work of art. The magnified effect of one of the three might result in unscrupulous work. Or unfinished thoughts, at times. However, maintaining the balance among these three might be the hardest venture one might take upon. Balance is a quest we are always intrigued by, after all. 

This is exactly why, more often than not, art might just be reflective. We might find the heart and soul of the artist without having any didactic principles for ourselves. It is, sometimes, the analyzed perception of oneself as viewed critically. It might be full of jest and a kinder judgment, at other times. It could also be romanticized, victimized, and lack of true self-awareness. One must not forget the uncanny countereffect of the perils of self-reflection, anyway. 

Anyhow, can we ever give a single definition for art? Can we say this is an art, but the other is not? On what standards, really? If art is, just, reflective, can it still be art?

In the 19th century, there was an art movement called Aestheticism. In short, the mantra of the thought was art for art's sake. It glorified art for what it is. Beauty. A caricature. The leading artists took away the weight of having meaning and implications to appreciate and muse over the work. It might seem like they appropriated the definition of art for their cause. But how can that be a crime since we all do it for whatever greater cause we assume to have? Hated by philistinism believers and those who are disdainful of intellectual or artistic values, the movement was replaced after all. Some even called it a cult for beauty. However, as one reflects on this form of art, there is undeniable significance it can bring to our current trends

Nowadays, we find many people writing, painting, mixing, or recording themselves to relieve the sore feeling they are experiencing. And I sometimes wonder if the final fate of art is becoming a vent of our emotions and turmoils?

This is why I would recommend having a reflective art journal. A notebook. A note-taking app on phone. Any writing or doodling device one can afford to have would do. For one, jotting down your ideas would help correctly track the train of thought one has. It is, sometimes, hard to distinctly understand the intended meaning if it is not further reflected upon. It is also helpful to differentiate the exaggerated versions from the realistic part of it. Having this process would prevent a hasty publication without a good ounce of a self-critic.   

By no means, I cannot judge or acclaim whether that is an art or not. But I would assert this: Perhaps one must carefully analyze and speculate whether every vent is a work of art. For the deep respect I have regarding art I, to the very least, wish to hear a critically challenged perception of thought other than a shallow observation of any incident. Although we, as humans, are cursed to be more than biased (on our emotions) in our utterances, a few things might help to refine our works like that of a reflective art journal. Otherwise, one is doomed to be a slave of a cacophony of undifferentiated voices leaving art at the mercy of jest and unworthy status. 

For me, still, art can be a reflective summary. If one can find a guiding principle for life, wouldn’t that be gold? But I don’t suppose we must always find a prescriptive rule of law for life.

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