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March 4, 2012 | by  | in Arts Visual Arts | [ssba]

A Personal Quality

In the sphere of the visual arts, beauty is a concept that is thrown around far too freely. The problem with the term is that it’s so entirely subjective; what seems endlessly beautiful to one individual can, to the next person, seem like a derivative pile of shit. The wonderful thing about it, though, is that through this subjectivity we are able to create a world where many different beauties can exist alongside each other, not competing, but instead, augmenting. These conceptions of beauty are intensely personal.

When I was a fresh faced thirteen-year-old, I carried out a maths project on a work by Cezanne called ‘Bridge at Maincy’, a work that played very thoughtfully with geography and composition. I studied this work from an academic viewpoint and did not consider it as a piece of art at the time. Two years later, I was suddenly face-to-face with the work in Paris’ Musee d’Orsay. The painting was clearly appreciated by others in the gallery, but for me it was mind-blowing, spectacularly beautiful. The personal context I took into that gallery created the beauty, a kind of chemical reaction between myself and the subject.

The knife, however, cuts both ways; personal contexts and experiences can lead you towards objects or spheres of beauty, but they can also prevent you from seeing it in other areas. I am assured by many that there is great beauty and artistry in a well-played game of football, or in the endorphin rush experienced during a run; I myself have never been able to see it. The point is that it is not for me to dispute the power that those people see in those experiences, just as much as they have no place to question where I see beauty. The term may lose influence through overuse, but the actual experience of the presence of beauty will never diminish as long as people continue to observe and make their own observations about the world around them.

[ssba]

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