Monday, 30 November 2009

Depression is the new black - Oh it's so arty!

I've always been fascinated by the 'fact' that human suffering is, and always has been, an indisputably strong influence on creativity throughout the ages.

I find that there is a screaming correlation between suffering and creativity. Emotions are such a huge drive behind creative expression generally... but which emotions are the strongest in this respect? Certain negative emotions such as sadness, pain, depression, melancholia etc. are profoundly negative and yet indulgence in these miserable moods seems to bring out the fire in us creatively. A reasonable example of this is art therapy, yet is this simply a diagnostic tool for doctors or is it a valid art form within itself? I wonder, are artists consciously looking at their next piece and wondering what to spike their work with? A shot of depression, a dash of Prussian Blue and voila! The next Van Gogh is born. What a tempting thought. By this hypothesis any bum on the street or Emo teen could whip out the pastels and be snapped up by Saatchi. I guess that's where your credibility factor comes into play. The issue of who you are and what your state of mind is, is a big aspect of how valid your art is - for instance, a mental patient who makes art could create some of the best work imaginable but it would have much less recognition being in a case file than in a gallery. Hmmmm... This leads me to wonder if there is a scale of negative vs. positive art - could work 'borne of pain', hold more value than pure 'happy' art? I feel certain that suffering is a catalyst for creativity, but has it actually been medically proven that distress triggers the creative impulse within you? I'd like to think so. The evolution of the art world over the last couple of centuries has been enormous, mostly, I feel, due to to market demands. The world has become more cynical, more sceptical of happiness that we seem too be looking for the 'bad' in our art. How did we get here? And what about those streetwize artists who may be faking their pain for commercial gain? If the world wants a moody, suicidal painting instead of a dizzy-with-happiness one, surely there must be a few who have spotted the potential gold mine in exploiting this hunger...?

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