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John Longbottom

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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Art, in all its wondrous forms, is a relationship between the artist and the beholder. It is a threesome. The artist is held to imagine and then create a work of art which then, in turn, engages the imagination of the beholder. The work of art is essentially incomplete without the senses and imagination of the beholder. In other words, the beholder has the possibility to infuse the work of art with varied and new perceptions perhaps bringing to light a whole new depth that even the original artist had not perceived. Just as a new friend or lover may bring to light a whole new dimension to one’s own character or personality. Or where the relationship itself, like the work of art, becomes a third entity. It cannot be a separate piece because its very existence is intrinsically linked to both its creator and its beholder.

The modern commercial, consumer-oriented world would have you believe differently. A work of art, whether it be a painting, a song or a novel is now labelled “a product”. An artist no longer creates, he or she produces. They may as well say, manufactures. To add insult to injury, not only is the work of art labelled a product but now publishers and producers demand that the artist themselves become a product. How demeaning is that? Let me get this right; for an artist to present his or her creation to the world at large, the artist, a human being; perhaps a very gifted one, has to debase her or himself from an individual to a nonhuman product, namely a brand?

They brand cattle and horses by burning, which is the original meaning of the word, an identifying mark into their flesh. This mark, or logo, is also called a brand. Manufactures have brand names for easy identification. Now the almighty dollar under the guise of commercialism has extended its greedy reach to creative artists of all genres. In order to sell his or her creation it has to be sellable, it has to appeal to popular taste. In other words, it must be commercial and the best way to market such a “product” is by having a brand. Who, I wonder, dictates what is commercially viable? Who defines popular taste? Does the artist have to mold his or her creations to please popular taste in order to sell his or her work? Does the general public define what is considered to be artistic? Or do commercial publishers and producers dictate what will sell or be acceptable?

Where, in all this commercial jungle, in which well-known artists, now with recognizable brands, does true originality lie? Artists are continually urged to “reinvent” themselves in order to conform to public taste. And who came up with that non-sensical term? So, what seems to be implied these days is, not only does an artist have to create a new work, he or she also has to re-create themselves. In essence, the message from the commercial world is artists must have sex with themselves. In other words, they are saying to every artist, “Go f*** yourself.”

Please, do not disfigure artists or blind the beholder with red hot branding irons. Let creativity flow freely to be made complete, to thrive through the senses and imagination of another person. Imagine imagination.

This entry was posted in Prose.
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