“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”-pablo piccasso
Everything that had, or still is, has an origin. A root, a beginning, a starting point. Even when you believe that, ‘all started from pre-existing things’ (Evolution), or in a religious perspective was created, or philosophically, ‘a cause caused all things to exist’- Even if it is a ’cause causer’ a ‘prime mover’ a ‘creator’, the fact still remains, everything has a beginning.
History and monuments as well as art have a lot to tell us about this truth. Though art had motivated the beginning of, and creation of other things that need to be created; it still has its origin; a higher origin, born and created with the artist himself. This origin of art has always been the pride of those who engage in it, mostly the visual art. Like human, the origin of art can be traced through evolution or creation, but the purpose of this piece is to trace it through creation.
Every profession has its own claims as to its roots. Sometimes these claims are verified by physical, documented or archeological evidences. Other times, they are just assertions and speculations and have no realistic proof to back up these arguments. Truth remains, every profession has a story to tell; for instance, ‘a Barrister of the law would affirm that the law was the first thing created. That is, when God said “…But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Genesis 2:17 kjv) law was born. A biologist would make his own claim “be fruitful and increase in number, multiply on the earth and increase upon it” (Gen. 9:7&1:27) biology. A poet would make his own claim that even from the beginning there was poetry, and man was a poet. He may prove this with this quatrine;
“This is now the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh
She shall be called woman
For she was taken out of man”
The rhyme and emotional outburst of man was obvious. He (man) is still substance other than a poet-He is dust, an element of artist creation, and he is an artwork of the great prime mover.
The artists claim that they are the second God, ie in terms of creativity, it’s no claim at all, but truth manifested in imitation of nature. Art was born with creation, it wasn’t born out of decree or biology et cetra but it is born in Toto with man’s creation. It’s birth was by an ‘act’ rather than word. All through the creation process or stages, we see God giving command with the popular phrase viz “let there be’ and it was on the creation of man, that God changed approach. We then see that man was created with a force greater than other things created. The word changed from ‘let there be’ or ‘let the’ to let us make (Gen. 1:26) signifying the presence of other creators outside the supreme creator himself.
The birth of art was when God said ‘let us make’, a different phrase from the former. The second account of creation supported this phrase to show an ‘act’ or action’ taking place; ‘the lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being’ (Gen. 2:7 kjv). Man was a lifeless statue before the breath of life. Lets look at the two words “form” and “make” the thesaurus dictionary of synonyms listed words synonymous to ‘make’ as’ build, assemble, put together, manufacture, produce, fabricate, create, form, fashion, model and synonyms to form as ‘body, shape, figure, build, frame, physique, anatomy’ et cetra. ‘From’ the verb as defined by the Longman Dictionary of contemporary English is “to start to exist or make something start to exist, especially as the result of a natural process” while ‘make’ is defined as ‘to produce something by working’.
From the above, we understand that there was a making, a doing, a forming, a bringing together taking place in Eden in a righteous harmony. This making is art. Man is art himself, the process through which he was made: sculpture therefore, of all things created man was uniquely different because of the artistic creation that brought about his existence. If man was not created, would God’s creation be complete? Therefore, art was the perfection of nature and all things created. What does the present day artist do; imitate God! Create things out of nature that were not created. It is factual to postulate that God created all things and gave man the sanction to continue his works. But the “let there be”, replaced by ‘let us make’ using our hands and mind together.
In continuity to creation, man imitates the creator. But is art only imitation? As Aristotle postulated when he defined mimesis as the perfection and imitation of nature: ‘Art is not only imitation. But also the use of mathematical ideas and symmetry in the search for the perfect, the timeless and contrasting being and becoming. Nature is full of change, decay and cycles but art can also search for what is everlasting and the first cause of natural phenomena.
Art from a professional point of view it is defined as a means of self expression. It involves an essence, a thought, an idea being manifested and expressed in reality be it on the visual or non-visual perspective. It entails a doing, a making, a genuine creative ability expressed in imitation and explanation of natural phenomena. The word ‘creativity’ is the keyword and ‘expression’ the manifestation. Art can be practised consciously or unconsciously. It brings beauty to limelight, sharpens our aesthetic values and transcends our thoughts and imagination to understand man’s inherent power to do all things; and break the barriers of impossibilities in terms of reasoning and creativity.
Naturally, man was created with this inherent desire to appreciate beauty, be it a person, a thing or an abstract idea. This is also in imitation of “and God saw that it was good” phrase used through out creation. Thus, in appreciation of the beauty of the first woman to walk the earth, man’s first official speech was born “Os ex ossibus et caro de carne mea” translated as this is the bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23). There are many things that keep man in awe, in wonder and pain. Some he can express by words?-those dreams, visions and ideas such as love, life, death et cetera. That makes a mockery of our speaking, ability? Art comes in; trying to explain, to depict, express our emotion in visual and non visual discrepancy. Patrick Frank quoted O’ Keeffe in his ‘prebles ARTFORMS’ thus I found I could say things with colours and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way-things I had no words for”. Going further he said ‘the arts communicate meanings that go far beyond ordinary verbal exchange, and artists use the entire range of thought, feeling and observation as subject of their art. Supporting this Vincent Van Gogh said ‘I dream my painting and I paint my dream’.
Art does not only seek to perfect nature or imitate the first cause, but also to give meaning to life and pacify man’s insatiable sense of aesthetic and pulchritude, expose hidden truths in reality, to tell of the change and the changeless, of time that brings about the harbingers of seasons, of good and evil; the right and the wrong, of darkness and light, to tell of man’s duality, of one of all-in short, art gives life to reality and reality to essence. No wonder even among those who do not comprehend the meaning embodied in a work of art, they still understand that ‘art is life’. It keeps man alive; as planned by God. Finally, Oscar Wilde postulated “paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life’. Art is nothing but life, as created by the creator.
Hillary Uzomba 08099257814, [email protected]