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The Importance of Art in 2020

Most people already appreciate the importance of listening to music as a means to help express feelings and moods but are perhaps less aware that art can have a similar effect. It is common knowledge that music can be motivational when we exercise. It can relax us when we're tired or stressed, and can uplift us when we're feeling sad. When we listen to music from our past, even our recent past, it can help us to reminisce about events, people, places and emotions. Art can do all of this and more but in a visual rather than an auditory way. The power of art can be restorative and it can be inspirational. Yet this power is not always embraced as it should be. Everyone could benefit from harnessing the power of art in their everyday life.

Mizi by Diana (2010)

Life in 2020 has forced us all, in some way, to experience social isolation, separation, loneliness and perhaps fear, and in some cases loss and grief. It is at times like these, that we need all the support we can get. Art can help to uplift our spirit. It can provoke an emotional response that will enable us to express our feelings and gain inner strength. It can even improve our well-being by helping us to understand ourselves and our emotional condition. A beautiful artwork can help us to relax. It can be inspirational and can help us to re-energise.

Bodiam Castle by Diana (2017)

No matter the size of your dwelling the atmosphere of a home environment can be transformed by the art that is displayed on the walls. A well placed print will have almost the same effect as an original! Similarly a carefully chosen artwork can boost the mood and energy of a work space too.

Tulipmania by Diana (2012)

Art can be a visualisation and an expression of the human condition. It can quietly and sometimes subtly put a picture to an emotion. The interpretation or reaction to a work of art is personal, it can mean different things to different people. In other words your response will be subjective. Sometimes we are even drawn to artwork which reflects something that we are missing in our day to day existence. For example, if everything in life appears calm and perfectly under control we may find ourselves naturally drawn to a piece of artwork that expresses chaos or turbulence and vice-versa.

Minotaur, Agios Nikolaos by Diana (2019)

We can turn to art to experience beauty. Van Gogh's Irises (1889) fit the bill perfectly and provide an intensely powerful colour contrast. Yet he painted the vibrant beauty of these flowers whilst a patient in Saint-Rémy's psychiatric hospital shortly before his death. So for me, this bouquet conveys a tangled mixture of beauty and pain.

Art can help us to relax. Monet's Japanese Bridge with water lilies at his garden at Giverny (1899)

and Monet's Poppy Field (1873) provide moments of restfulness, peace and tranquility.

Art can help us to experience the emotions of hopefulness, joy and yearning.

When Van Gogh painted his series of sunflower pictures he was full of hope for the future. These paintings convey that joyful feeling of expectation and positivity. Sunflowers no. 4 was painted in 1888 and is innovative for it's use of yellow on yellow. As a result It is bright, bold and cheerful.

Art can convey fear and hopelessness too. Edvard Munch's Scream (1893) depicts his own personal angst.

This painting was autobiographical and it is possibly Munch's visualisation of his own scream. Perhaps a cry for help in a moment of loneliness, having been cast aside by his two friends who appear in the background. Munch's Scream stirs feelings of pain and conflict. It is disturbing but at the same time it is reassuring because it is a visual recognition of the universality and challenge of human suffering. If, at a moment in time, you too encounter such a feeling, then this painting should encourage you to realise that you are not unusual or alone in your experience.

Art can powerfully depict love and Gustav Klimt's painting of The Kiss (1907) does just that.

It speaks for itself and through this painting you can almost experience the emotional connection; the tenderness and the warmth of this kiss, representing the union of both spiritual and erotic love. The warmth and closeness of true partnership.

Art can take the ordinary and mundane and make it beautiful. Seeing things through an artist's eyes can help us to look at things differently and put things into perspective. It helps to highlight what is important and encourages us to rediscover simple everyday things, places and occurrences. It can poeticise and dignify the normal, the usual and the regular. It can even take a common average item and lift it to momentary iconic status.

In 32 Soup Cans (1962), Andy Warhol attempts to make the prosaic into something special.

The American people, are depicted here by Jacob Lawrence (1958) in his painting Brownstones. The hustle and bustle of a regular Harlem Street becomes an even more vibrant, colourful and exciting depiction of everyday life. Again the ordinary becomes something extraordinary when seen through this artist's eyes.

Whilst, an ordinary bowl of summer fruit becomes a masterpiece in the hands of Michelangelo Caravaggio (1599)

Marcel Duchamp, with his conceptual art and a sense of humour, encouraged us to take life less seriously. He elevated the urinal to Fountain (1917). In doing so, Duchamp gave us the chance to see the urinal from a different perspective. Like it or hate it, this work tries to make you think differently, even just for a moment. Here the prosaic and familiar becomes the extraordinary. A mundane, utilitarian object associated with bodily functions becomes an object of beauty and we're encouraged to enjoy the craftsmanship in white porcelain!

Another artwork that may produce an awkward laugh is Stacked (2003) by Jeff Koons. It's from his Banality Series which strives to portray visual clichés.

As the world's most iconic artwork, Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is the epitome of dignity, serenity and accomplishment, and conveys much about the society from which it came. Huge crowds flock to see this painting in the Louvre and people will queue to catch a glimpse of that enigmatic smile!

The Mona Lisa painted in 1503 has celebrity status over 500 years after she sat for this portrait. More famous in death than life. Her glamorous image has been reproduced time and time again.

Every culture throughout history has produced art. The human impulse to produce a creative response to life and the environment has been perpetual, universal and eternal. The desire to shape, copy, emulate, imagine and create form and order out of matter has been a natural human phenomenon since time began, as evidenced by cave art throughout the world. A discovery in South Africa in 2018 is thought to be most ancient cave art in existence, and is estimated to be around 73 000 years old. It depicts stencilled hands, figurative drawings, lions, mammoths and other wildlife.

Art has a strong purpose. It helps us to look at things differently. It can help to broaden our horizons. It can be calming and reassuring, energising and stimulating, restful, inspirational, lighthearted and funny, painful and serious, but art reflects all of the human emotions and experiences and can help us feel connected. We are not alone in this world and everything has been experienced before and expressed in a visually creative way. Art can help to rebalance us, especially in challenging times.

The Pianist by Diana (2017)

On a daily basis much thought is given to the music we put on our play lists. It is now time to give some more thought to the artwork that we put in our homes, workplaces, on our screensavers and in our recreational areas. Different genres will suit different spaces and different artworks will create different moods. Perhaps it's time to harness the power of art in your life!

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