Thought — 1 Min Read

Must Art Search For Truth

by Case Greenfield, April 21, 2022

Thought – 1 Min Read

Must Art Search For Truth

by Case Greenfield

April 21, 2022

Somehow, art must establish the merger of truth and imagination into a consistent whole that leads to warm grounding. Art must find a way to merge universal, scientific, group and individual realities into that consistent whole.

Today, I read an intriguing article about the role of reality in art in a Dutch newspaper by Dutch art critic Hans den Hartog Jager. I have ‘Google Translate-d’ pieces of it for you below:

“What is art: images, sounds, that evoke feelings, ideas, fears, fascinations you don’t know – at least not in that way. And thereby turn something in your body or your mind upside down. This always requires empathy, even if only in the form that is called supsension or disbelief: you know that a painting, a film, a piece of music is a construction, paint, pixels, displaced air, but because you also know that such an artificial construction is the first step towards emotion, amazement, deepening, you get over your first disbelief – this mechanism is so elementary when experiencing art that you rarely think about it. Artists, in turn, make use of this: because you have crossed the threshold of disbelief, it is much easier to get carried away in a constructed, fictional world with different laws than in the everyday world. It is not without reason that ambiguity and elusiveness have been regarded as some of the most important characteristics of contemporary art for decades – artists are not expected to draw conclusions, but to open up new vistas. Imagination, not truth. But what if the truth transcends the imagination?” (…)

Because … we live in a world, where ‘romantic’ imagination is being totally faded away by fake news. To a degree that everybody is now desperately looking for the truth.

“It is precisely this need for truth, for a clear perspective, that makes the situation difficult for artists. You feel on all sides that they want to do something, contribute, support, show empathy. At the same time, since the last great war in Europe, artistic empathy has become associated with ambiguity – call it artistic freedom, or autonomy. There was every reason for this: World War II was caused by a number of authoritarian regimes that wanted to impose their ideology on the world – the post-war ‘never again’ also meant: down with such authority. And we succeeded, you could say: today, in 2022, there is a wide distrust of artists who strive for truth, or for universality – we have associated this for a long time with kitsch, entertainment and vulgarity.” (…)

So, has truth finding become the new goal for art and artists?

“While artists used to try to make reality richer and more complex, based on their romantic artist personality, there may now be a need for art that orders and condenses reality, which distills universal themes from chaotic reality. Art that radically appropriates the truth to itself. I don’t know exactly how to do that, luckily not.”

Well, I do not know how to do it either … yet … but I do feel that we somehow must merge two conflicting phenomena in our brains: our rational need for truth in order to be able to predict the near and long term future in order to be able to survive as a person and as a species versus our emotional need to imagine a better future that gives us hope and the strength to carry on in live and make the best of it.

Somehow, art must establish the merger of truth and imagination into a consistent whole that leads to warm grounding. Art must find a way to merge universal, scientific, group and individual realities – and maybe even digital reality – into that consistent whole. A sort of post-modern realism: merging realism and romanticism into a consistent whole. Consistent, that is, for our brain.

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