“Art emerges and develops where there is a yearning for the ideal,” says A. Tarkovsky, and adds, “Art is a symbol of this world that is intertwined with the spiritual reality hidden from us by a utilitarian practice.”
Even though the idea is a highly controversial concept, the idea in terms of art represents, at its most basic, “unity” and “integrity.” It expresses the “common essence” or “common form” that holds what is different together. The work of art is at one with its essence; it is unique and original.
Artistic endeavor is found in all cultures, from the earliest periods in human history. However, art gained self-consciousness in Ancient Greece. This was no accident because Ancient Greece was also where people gained consciousness of philosophy, or of their own thoughts. The objects of other sciences are outside, whereas both the subject and object of philosophy are inside one and the same consciousness. As Aristotle says, “Just as we define a ‘free person’ as someone who exists for their own end rather than that of another, we are in search of the science of philosophy as the only free science because philosophy exists for its own end.”
Socrates’ maxim “Know thyself” is possible only through philosophy, and art is an aesthetic and original expression of this act of free thought. It is inevitable that art be denied in societies where philosophy does not flourish. Neither the artist nor their work serve the purposes or desires of any other person; this is why an artist is questioning and critical. All analyses, explanations, and interpretations on aesthetics show that aesthetic sensibility, aesthetic creation, aesthetic perception, and aesthetic judgment are preconditions for the development of a person or the construction of a societal culture and civilization. The essential freedom of art and its tendency to rebel and recreate have always bothered holders of political power. This is why all fascist, despotic, and totalitarian regimes have banned artistic activity. Instead, art is replaced by pseudo-artistic propaganda.
Art co-exists with wisdom, or sophia. Sophia turns an ordinary person into an “ethical human being,” while art turns an ordinary person into an “aesthetic human being.” The wise person exists, and the artist creates. Art makes abstract ideas or thoughts visible by presenting them to the senses. In the words of Yunus, the great Turkish wise man, “I took on flesh and bones and appeared as Yunus.” Niyazi-i Mısri, another wise man once said, “I used to be a light in the heavens, I appeared as Niyazi on earth.”
People turn to objects of desire either to consume or to own them. Artistic interest, on the other hand, liberates its object with the wish that it continue its existence on its own behalf.
The uniqueness and integrity of a work of art separates it from everything else, and it is this originality that makes a work of art effective and attractive.
Art addresses people’s spirits and shapes their spiritual make-up. The world is rendered useful by technology, explained by philosophy, and recreated by the artist. Universal civilization is an ideal and a “temple of humanity.” To the altar of this temple, each culture should offer works of art created by processing the values imbibed from its historical experience.
In our contemporary world, general and widespread education made people resemble one another, become ordinary, and generated herd consciousness. What is expected from the artist is to create a difference.
As an aesthetic work, I believe art does not require any further explanation. However, further discussion concerning the effect a work of art has on its viewers and its place in the history of art is possible.
The individual works of an artist may be independent works of art each with their own integrity, but the artist cannot be understood merely upon the basis of these works. The artist expresses him or herself in their art, but behind it, belongs to a flowing continuum of life. Each work is like a single film frame, an instance, but cannot represent the whole.
* Metin Bobaroğlu, December 13, 2013. Translated by Dr. Emre Eren Korkmaz, and revised by the editorial board.