The Artist in Me

Being a science nerd, for the most part, I found works of art too complex to my analytical and mathematical mind. I believe that there is an inherent mathematical nature to reality and I am fascinated by this mysterious connection between mathematics and nature. We have always looked at nature and searched for patterns, gazed at the night sky and observed constellations even coming to believe that they might control our destiny. 

This strong belief on mathematical connections to reality made me explore flip side on how art helps us re-engage with reality. I started this journey by going through art history. Upon reading that I had a better understanding than most of the “aesthetic experience”. The first person that impressed me the most was Mark Rothko. His abstract paintings fascinated me the most. Abstract paintings are meant to be experienced and words fail to explain them. Taking time to really view a Rothko places you inside the painting to contemplate what it is saying to you. Listening to what your eyes are telling you about the space and time and why you see thing the way you do. The raw edges of colour over colour, one flowing into the next; either under or over, allowing you to formulate questions and then finding the answers you seek simply by remaining long enough to see the depth of your answers. 

rothko

Mark Rothko explored how forms could float in space, sometimes advancing towards you, other times quietly receding away from you. By looking at his paintings, there is a number of ways we could discern how these effects are achieved. However, Rothko was notoriously hermetic about his studio practices. We don’t know all that much about what materials he used and how exactly he did it, but by looking closely we can learn a lot. It appears that Rothko often flared out paint, one layer over another to make us realise a buzzing sensation as we gaze through the edges. This is the most impressive part of Rothko’s works.

Another Abstract art that impressed me the most was works of Pierre Soulages. As I write, his work Master of Black and Light comes to my mind. There are two key elements that run throughout his works, they are light and colour. In this painting, he used the colour black as he felt that it was violent, intense, reactive and hence stayed loyal to it throughout his career. The Light was the most important tool in his painting. Here, the play of light transforms and transmutes as the thickness of the paint changes across the work’s surface.

The amount of time invested by the artist to try and get the colours and feelings just right was evident. Then comes the question what is the purpose of art? I believe that art is a mechanism that is intended to make us more attentive. Beauty is the property of an object the art represents and such objects appear to be purposive without purpose. Rothko, for example, tried to represent form as a mathematical vision of colour and this amazes me as to how art helps us explain the unexplainable and see the unseeable. 

Mathematically, we are partially successful in understanding and expressing emotions but these abstract artists have captured emotions in colours through their artistic intelligence. This amazes me the most and I see art as a very powerful tool and abide by views on Immanuel Kant on fine art. Lacan and Lacanians have used Logic and Mathematics to express the psyche but in our lifetime we will not be able to develop mathematical models that would help us understand ourselves better but artists have succeeded in re-engaging reality by blending colour and forms centuries ago. 

But I believe that all the forms of art shouldn’t be readily accepted. Gavin Turk states that “Art is taken too seriously. Its authority has to be questioned. If you take a piece of the world and put it into a gallery, then the object becomes a representation of what it was before, a pictorial version of itself” He is someone who liked to play with history and authenticity of art. He used rubbish in his artworks and argued that in the process of undermining itself, an artwork opens up for interpretations and reveals itself. 

Just like Turk, I believe that art can turn even a rubbish into a thoughtful emotion. Art should be devoid of impurities that do not contribute to the function of evoking emotions in an observer. These are the kind of thought-provoking ideas that drew me into the world of art. I am enjoying this journey and I want all the readers to join me. 

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