On Love as an Artform

For a while, I didn’t get art. It boggled me.

You see, I am a person who expresses themselves most fragrantly in spoken words, slightly less so written ones, aptly through music, decently through dance, poorly through cooking, and, Pictionary successes notwithstanding, abysmally through visual art. So when it came to art I wondered what all the fuss was about.

I think this stemmed from a misconception of art as something for the high-minded or well-educated. I thought that “only pretentious” people went through art galleries, hemming and hawing at the works of Monet, Renoir, and, unwittingly, some upside-down artwork that somebody smuggled in to deride the pretentiousness of art patrons. How half right I was! The “only” part was incorrect – while these pretentious people do exist, there are also people who go through art galleries because they express themselves through art and thus enjoy the communication that is a work of art, the sense, I suppose, of finding in themselves an emotional response to another artist’s creation. There are also people who create art for the same reasons I write – because they love doing it, and because it elucidates truths.

My overcoming this misconception was fortunate and largely due to two factors. First, I realised that my misconception was a load of wank, that art doesn’t belong to the snooty and that I’m perfectly entitled to look at Matisse’s Jeune femme à l’ombrelle and consider it a piece of shit. Or a work of genius, as the case may be. Secondly, I spent an inordinate amount of time in a huge variety of European museums, sometimes in the company of aspiring artists. I think this is known as exposure.

a picture of matisse's jeune femme a l'ombrelle, showing love as an artform

Matisse’s “Jeune Femme à l’Ombrelle”. I believe the style is known as ‘pointilism’.

So I basically realised that, for art to be enjoyable, I had to interact with it, go toe-to-toe, be willing to allow myself to respond to it and share my response with others. I had to take art off the pedestal and see it as something organic, that people make because they feel something. Where a Henri Moore sculpture is metaphorically the entire breadth of artistic creation, I had to, so to speak, straddle it.

Now here’s the thing: love is very similar. Love is an artform. To love is to express oneself in an act of creation.

It’s similar too, in that too often we think love is something for people who understand it better than us. We witness it idealised and sugarcoated in every medium, we are robbed of it by couples who swoon over each other. Love becomes something that is the domain of others, something behind glass walls in galleries without a concession price for students.

Is this too much of an accusation to make of my fellow humanity? I feel like I experience and behold people precluding themselves from enjoying love in the same way that I precluded myself from enjoying art. People refuse to risk being hurt, or making a fool of themselves, or going beyond their depth. We fear the uncertainty of love. But in love, as in art, there are no sure things.

a picture of street art from napoli, (naples), italy - love as an artform

Street art from Napoli, Italy.

This is an exhortation to fuck that shit. There are million-dollar artworks that are less beautiful than a G7b9 chord, and every day people are drawing on the backs of dockets, painting on walls, scribbling on arms, and creating depictions filled with meaning to them and perhaps to others. You can pepper your walls with worthless art that speaks to you, or grab a canvas and bang it with some blue poles if that’s your thing. You can go to the Louvre, look at the Mona Lisa, and feel like you’ve wasted your time. On the other hand, a discreet hovel in Barcelona may hold wondrous works. In my case, it held a slightly creepy man who had only done pictures of Dali and naked women.

And love! Love is a creative act of expression. It isn’t just in poems or movies, it’s in you and it’s in us as a species, in handshakes, hugs, shared meals, laughter, yearning and contentment. Interact with love, go toe-to-toe, respond to it and share your response with others. Take love off the pedestal and let it be something organic, that occurs in you because you are human.

Straddle love! Let it adorn your walls. Your life is a blank canvas. We can’t all be artists – but we all can draw.

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One Response to “On Love as an Artform”

  1. Great Post. I often enjoy the artwork of my 2 year old over a great master, but have been known to cry in a gallery!

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