When art speaks to us on ‘another level’
Michalina Kawa, II LO Rzeszów
Keith Haring, a great American artist, said that ‘Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.’ Haring’s graphics provoke thoughts and imagination. Even though they are simple in comparison to realistic or impressionistic paintings, they speak with their many meanings.
We may observe and analyse them forever, and still, there will be someone who will perceive and understand the form of art differently. Art is something that means to reach our highest senses and make our thoughts float far away. So, can art establish the future in any way? Did artists anticipate the times that were about to come?
Briefings about Artistry today, marking its beginnings
Glimpsing at the nineteenth century’s realism and how it forecasted something serious to come. Painters primarily presented ordinary people in everyday situations. Arguably, meanings intertwined within paintings did somehow foreshadow the somewhat reality of war. This did, however, break the routines and norms previously eternalised by painters.
Before we get to Haring’s era – pop and street art, there was abstract expressionism. Marking its beginnings in the 40s, paintings from this era could be perceived as ones, purposely emphasising the importance of emotions and feelings if World War II ended. After both, the global and personal tragedy of war, people desperately worked towards finding their loved ones whilst trying to come to terms with oneself. This, in the art, was strongly emphasised and significantly connected to the realm of emotions.
Art from the perspective of a creator; the imagination is the limit. Art can also be graffiti, street art, photography, collages, performance, stickers, chalk drawings, manifestos and many more. The simplicity of Haring’s graphics anticipated how simplified the future world might be, once technology became prevalent. And, although not every piece of art made in the pop art period is easily understandable and approachable, the art world is entering a new era of digitality. Such a world of virtuality can also refer to a simplified world. A world, in which we can do anything, simply with the help of our mobile devices.
In times present to us all
Now, during times of uncertainty caused by a global pandemic, the art world is facing radical changes. Cultural institutions have been forced to shut their doors. Museum or art gallery tours, shows and performances have been cancelled and seeking a chance to be displayed only through the digital screen of advanced technology. Viewing art through a computer screen may not enhance the emotions you would endure in reality, but, for sure, it allows art to stay relevant, especially today. Creators can continue presenting their masterpieces whilst viewers can observe and grasp a feel of peace and comfort – something we all lack.
When enclosed within four walls of our homes, our minds start to observe and generally overthink, especially in times of boredom. Since lockdown, many saw and often reached out to art as their comfort zone, their ‘time’ to get away, not the usual getaway of going abroad, but a chance to head off somewhere else, somewhere other than their initial thoughts and feelings captured by the human mind in times of uncertainty. It gave them an opportunity to express and feel, often preserving anxiety and balancing stress. People then see more value in art and embrace artistic symbolism.
Evolution of symbols
Art is not static or unified across time and space. It has changed throughout the centuries, and if we look at the various periods closely, we can see how much artistry has extended through forms and styles. Moreover, not every era is the realism era. Throughout time, visual art tends to become symbolic in different ways. For instance, in medieval times specific objects, flowers or colours always had a fixed meaning, but closer to contemporary times, the more various connotations one object can obtain. Now, art and its symbolism may both reflect reality and predict the future's broader spectrum of freedom such as freedom of speech, personal freedom and the many rights people gained throughout time, including freedom understood as the independence of specific nations.
In contemporary times, life becomes easier in many aspects. Still, it had generated, often new, unknown problems – what could be predicted with growing meanings of art and infinite symbolism of specific art pieces. Freedom has a lot of definitions, and everyone feels it on different levels and defines it differently; as there are countless things that can make us feel free. And, it also translates to our understanding of the world and art. Art pieces can speak to us on another level based on what we believe in and how we define freedom and our identity in this world. Our feelings, emotions and what we experienced in life can determine how we further interpret art.
Art makes us ‘go further’
‘Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.’ Keith Haring was right. Art transports us into another frame, makes us rethink everything we thought we knew and further discover new symbolic meanings. Artists think further and look into the future, and they are good at it. And, we are there to interpret and unravel what else art has to offer. Even if we do not necessarily ‘get’ the artist’s vision, a specific art piece can still ‘speak to us’. We may not understand the symbolism and possible repercussions for the future of it entirely, or maybe there is not one exact meaning, or perhaps there is no meaning at all. Still, if we are sensitive, the art will tell us the story itself. And, it will be a unique story each time we glimpse at it again. Who knows, maybe staring at art pieces can make any of us an artist?