Picasso said ‘Painting is not made to decorate’. I remember pondering this as I look at the bare white walls of our unfinished home.
Great art is transcendent. It lifts us above the ordinary and connects us to something bigger. It stills a sense of awe and makes us feel the sublime.
Looking at great art lights the pleasure part of our brain, much like gazing into a loved one’s eyes. Research by Professor Semir Zeki, Neuroesthetics at University College London, has demonstrated that viewing a beautiful work of art creates the same chemical response as being in love. Both experiences trigger the feel-good chemical dopamine.
Art can change consciousness. Jacob Devaney, who specialises in synthesising art and science says “When you observe a profound piece of art you are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration.“
Indeed, why settle for art that merely decorates.
The Impossible Bird Collection: The Impossible Bird fine art collection is founded on the symbolism of the Black Swans. It builds on their story; for thousands of years, the rest of the world considered black swans to be non-existent. In medieval Europe, unicorns had more credibility than black swans; no one had ever seen one, so they did not exist until they were discovered in Australia.
The Impossible Bird collection is a reminder of how ‘impossible‘ is often a failure of imagination or a lack of exploration. It incites us to believe in our ability to reach beyond our potential through curiosity and creativity.
Welcome to Art Makes A Room; A monthly article in pursuit of transcendent art.
Before I get into that, I accept that there is an alternative view by some decorators and stylists “Don’t overthink art! Did you think about the meaning of your dining table when you bought it?“
Well… actually … yes, I did. I have owned three in my life, as an adult, and each has meant something; I chose them to foster the types of gatherings I hoped to hold. And the last one I hope would serve at the homes of my children one day, holding a lifetime of remember-when’s.
Doesn’t it make better sense to adorn our one precious life by few but meaningful objects that we hold dear for life and hopefully pass on? Surely, it is a superior alternative to following trends and fashion that promote mindless consumerism. This is not minimalism in its purest form, for as humans, we are wired to seek and enjoy beauty; compelled to make our homes a sanctuary. It is about being deliberate in our choices and thinking beyond function and fashion. So, yes, absolutely, I thought what my dining table means when I bought it. And I hope more of us do too.
Finding transcendent art needs us to do a little over-thinking. It is complex and subjective. But at its heart, great works of art have all or some of these common attributes; they hold symbolism, have meaning, and tell stories.
Great art points to something beyond itself and its maker. That kind of art sets you in motion and takes you somewhere beyond the ordinary.
Symbolism conveys a hidden meaning and is one of the essential elements which gives depth to art; it may be the colour, something natural like the seasons or defined such as a Greek god. It conveys emotions and ideas which we can not experience with our five senses. This is where we find unexplainable joy.
Symbolism is a portal.
Get to know objects and themes with emotional significance to you; the type that makes you feel and moves you. Choose where you wish your awe-inspiring-art to take you and be guided by that.
Meaning is an equivocal term that can itself mean many different things. Meaning in art is what we give to it. Our knowledge and experiences inform it. The back story can also provide additional meaning to a work of art; who made it, where was it made, the material or methodology used, the thought and inspiration that went in making it.
Explore the artist, and read the artist statement. It helps build the backstory that connects you to the art and the artist.
Our home may be a representation of our outer existence. But our choices are an expression of our inner life. Great art expresses you, your believes and aspirations; like a post-it note but with super-powers. It can spark conversations that help build deeper connections beyond the surface.
Consider the story that a piece might tell and the conversations it can spark.