The Truth in Art and the Art in Truth
Art is an eternal and sensitive thing that is the means of expression of human creativity, feelings, and emotions. Since art can be the figure of the imagination, it relies on such instruments as the exaggeration, deception, and decoration. One can express art through music, literature, painting, sculpture, dance, and architecture. It means that art exists in many forms and depends on the individual talent, imagination, and creativity. The peculiarity of art is that it can decorate ugliness, hide evils, reinforce beauty, and even deceive the viewers, who perceive it visually and forget that they should switch on their critical thinking. By exploring art as a means of entertainment, deception, and a way of seeing truth, this essay proves the idea that Pablo Picasso was right stating that, “All art is a lie that helps us see the truth more clearly.”
Art as an Entertainment
First of all, art is an entertainment that has the functions of charming, astonishing, surprising, and provoking feelings and emotion. It is evident that it emphasizes entertainment and leisure above the truth. Furthermore, the role of the viewer is to see its deceptive nature and find the truth with the help of passion, laugh, sentiment, thought, and feelings (Clurman 10). Not everybody can see the real things through art. Consequently, such viewers are unable to be the detectors of the truth, while assessing the art. There is no doubt that art can imitate real things, depicting the sun, the sky, a garden, or a house, making the viewers admire them and suppose that they themselves are the connoisseurs of art. However, those who regard art as an entertainment, see only its surface.
One should mention that art has a deceptive character that is revealed through the function of entertainment, because many artists regard it as a way to success and profits. However, the real artists do not create in order to become prosperous and famous. On the contrary, their masterpieces are recognized after their death and can have a predictable function. Those, who create for the sake of entertainment, becoming successful and rich, are doomed to failure. Moreover, the real art does not reveal the truth directly. It hides it and gives audience the possibility to reflect, analyze, compare, contrast, and express the opinion. Art is a re-creation of reality according to artist’s judgments (Clurman 17). It is evident that man has a profound need of art to concretize the fundamental view of the world, using consciousness and experience.
Lies like Truth
Art remains an entertaining and physical object when people cannot learn from it. It can provide the information about life, society, and history. However, those who regard art as something imagined, deceptive, and unreal cannot absorb the depth of new knowledge. For example, Carl Sandburg, the writer of The Chicago Renaissance can be misunderstood by those, who do not address the additional knowledge and experience. In his work he perceives Chicago as ‘a city of the big shoulders.’ It means that his work of poetry was created for the limited group of people, who wanted to see Chicago in a real interpretation with its social problems. Consequently, art gives the possibility and opportunity to experience phenomena that are not accessible in life.
The Deception through Art
The deception can be expressed through art in diffident ways. Theatre is the place where actors play, pretend, and try to astonish their viewers. There is no doubt that one can regard it as the deception with the function to entertain, relax, and impress. However, each viewer has his/her understanding of deception and truth. One cannot focus on the separate segments of the audience as their tastes differ. The tone of voice, the flash of an eye, the color of a costume, the eloquence of a gesture, the magnetism of personality, and the atmosphere of an environment can express the deception (Davies 56). However, an attentive and thoughtful viewer can see the truth, hidden behind the most skillful techniques. Consequently, theater intends to decorate the reality and impose its feelings and emotions, and the role of the viewer is to see more than the actors want to demonstrate on the scene. For example, the poem The Giving Three by Shel Silverstein is based on the vocabulary easy for comprehension and tells a life story of a small boy. In fact, this way is used by the author to deceive his audience or to make them more thoughtful and knowledgeable in order to be able to find the key message.
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W. B. Yates wrote: ‘What can be explained is not poetry.’ It means that art is deeper and more meaningful than one can understand it after the first impression. The thing that is on the surface is deception, whereas the thing, which is hidden, is the truth. Reading a poem or prose presupposes understanding of what is implied, looking for the symbols, and analyzing the hidden messages. Consequently, the deceptive side of the poetry is revealed directly, while the truth is depicted indirectly. Not without a reason, Robert Frost wrote: ‘I never write a poem about what I write a poem about.’ It means that poets give the opportunity to the readers to choose what the deception is and where the truth is hidden. Such approach proves that art cannot be direct, clear, and understandable. It demands certain knowledge, skills, and experience to identify the boundary between the deception and truth.
The example of deception in art is depicted in Robert Frost’s poetry. In his poem The Road Not Taken, the readers will be deceived if they perceive the word ‘the road’ verbally and do not regard it as a life way or personal experience. Consequently, the deception of art lies in the direct perception and understanding of the artworks. It means that art cannot provide the additional knowledge if the person fails to receive them. Art can lie while imitating the picture of life, if humans do not want to learn in special ways. People are always ignorant, but the level of their ignorance varies from the question to question. The real art cannot be explained. It provokes confusion, misunderstanding, deeper ignorance, and even fear. People do not want to think and absorb the depth of knowledge (Ferrer 2). Consequently, it is easier for them to regard art as a deception than to analyze and move forward to opening something new.
The artist is an imitator of images and he can deviate from the truth easily. It means that he cannot control his imagination and talent during the creation of deceptive artworks. Plato insisted that art was the shallow and dangerous imitation of life that was drawing humans far away from the truth. He was right when it came to those, who failed to absorb the depth of art and preferred to remain on the surface (Ferrer 2). Therefore, the truth does not lie in the physical manifestation but in the implications of art. Plato insisted that an artist was like a carpenter, who deserved less respect for his deception. Indeed, the artists address the form of beauty, physical image, and projection of beauty. They can divert from the truth only those, who fail to analyze art in a proper way (Ferrer 2).
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Art as a Way of Seeing the Truth
The deceptive and decorative character of art expression is a way of seeing the truth. One should say that artists have no boundaries and limitations in their creativity. For example, the novelist uses the stories and people that can be imaginary in order to reveal the truth. The playwright applies the dramatic actions to reinforce the leading message. Consequently, his truth is hidden not only in the text but in actors’ playing as well. Art is a mirror, which offers a reflection of life itself. However, not everybody can apply this mirror in a proper way. For some people it is deformed and spoilt, so that they are unable to see the truth. Others can evoke the same thoughts, emotions, ethical and moral controversies, and conflicts as they experience in life (Clurman 15).
Pablo Picasso implied that art contained the truth and meaning, but it was not available to everybody. Art gives people knowledge and influences their emotions if they are ready for it (Davies 20). Anyone, who has a personal reaction towards the artwork, will receive the truth of real art. For example, theater as an art will be the open door for those, who regard playing as a way of entertainment and relaxing. However, Harold Clurman wrote that theater presupposed the application of life experience that would reflect a true life picture. It should be mentioned that some people regard art as a physical object that one can touch, smell, hear, and see. However, such approach to art will not shorten the distance between seeing and understanding and will divert the viewer from the truth of art. The essence of art and the essence of life can be different as the artist’s picture of life can vary from those that are imposed on him by the community (Ferrer 1).
The truth of art is either in its confirmation of the human experience or in challenging it, by showing people new possibilities of experience. For example, art can demonstrate what it is like to fall in love or to suffer from undivided love. However, the challenge of art is that it is not truth-assertive in its character. It means that art gives the opportunity of choice and has the presentational character (Davies 32). The role of the person is to determine, which part of art is truthful and which one is deceptive. For example, poetry is based on the instinct of imitation, harmony, and rhythm. All these techniques make it melodic and attractive for reading and listening. However, the role of the reader is to see more than the essential instruments of writing. As to the tragedy, it can have the deceptive character if the viewer analyzes only its songs, spectacles, thoughts, diction, characters, and plot. The truth of tragedy is hidden in the action of life, feelings, and emotions, provoked by playing.
The more promising opinion on the art, as the way of revealing the truth, is represented in the words of Aristotle: ‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance (Ferrer 2).’ It means that the outward appearance of artworks has the deceptive character that can create the wrong perception and understanding of the essential message of the artist. The inward significance of artworks reveals their truth, and only limited amount of people can reach their meanings. According to Aristotle, the art objects contain the eternal truths that should be found through the beauty and universal forms. Consequently, the truth of art is in the human spiritual and artistic contemplation. Artists communicate with people through the outward appearance or the inward experience. However, some of them are able to use both instruments, while others prefer the outward appearance in order not to address to additional knowledge and personal experience. It means that art is the tool, used to relate the truth on the earth with that in the human soul.
Art is valuable because it reveals the truth and has the role of a teacher of life. However, if art does not teach, it does not mean that it loses its value and significance. The artworks require more intellectual and emotional awareness to reveal the essential truth. The audience has the opportunity to see the world reshaped by artistic means through the way the artist sees the world and presents his understanding of reality. Consequently, art can provide an insight into the way how a person sees it through his/her own eyes. As a result, it is wrong to condemn or praise the artist for his/her personal understanding of the truth.
Art can imitate life deceptively and truthfully. It means that it presents both sides, and the role of the audience is to reveal them. It is not the function of the work of art to show directly the distinction between the deception and the truth. The artist can help some of his/her viewers but not everyone.
In conclusion, one should say that art has a deceptive character that reinforces human ability to see and understand the truth. However, the deception of artworks is in their forms and beauty, whereas the truth of art is in the depth of its message. It is evident that art is regarded as a form of entertainment by those people, who are unable to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience. It is easier for them to perceive what is on the surface than to absorb the depth of the artist’s imagination and creativity. The art can be deceptive when it tries to hide a particular message or to make the audience more sophisticated and thoughtful. The art can be truthful when people are able to understand the implied meanings and to see not only visually depicted things but also notice the emotions that are hidden behind the beautiful appearance and form. Consequently, each artwork presents both deception and truth.