The great Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
And that is a great purpose, which can only be pursued through the arts. Any art form, be it painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, or dancing, has a way of connecting us to a higher power. It also helps us realise a larger purpose, see the bigger picture, and reach for the unknown. It is also a deeply humanising experience.
Elegance, simplicity, and restraint can all be found in painting. Drawing is a feat of memory and imagination, of keeping the eye alive, to retaining curiosity. For me, personally, painting serves as a portal between our world and another. Painting is by its nature a solitary activity. Far away from the razzle, dazzle, and frantic hustle of now. For fine art is not part of the fleeting frenzy, and transcends time, language, culture, borders, and other man-made barriers. Great art is not about now; classical fine art masterpieces that have endured for all times can take you to a place where you feel eons rolling by. It’s a gateway between our world and the unknown.
Art can transcend boundaries. I believe that through painting one can discover the secret portal that opens on to the thresholds of eternity. To realise the power of art is to experience it. Art that is deeply rooted and comes from a personal inner place has power over the viewer and affirms the moral imagination.
Art is the most authentic expression of human activity, subjectivity, set against the sterile irony and the sense of trivial pursuit that infest our modern culture. In recorded human and collective history of the world, images of nature made us ‘feel’ deeply. This has now been replaced by a largely man-made, mechanical world, and we are swarmed by dozens of meaningless images each second, which are mass produced and reproduced, distributed, and circulated through electronic mediums.
However, with art that is handmade, the human eye scans it to understand its meaning, stories, narration, and context. We become curious about the use of medium, sensitive to the strokes and seeing the handwork of the artist.
As we study a painting, its story begins to unravel in front of us and we discover its meaning. It activates the imagination, engages the viewer, and educates us. Art makes us a complete human being, with feeling, seeing, thinking, learning, discovering, engaging, telling, and giving meaning.
Art matters for as long as human civilisation continues to search for the meaning of existence. An inner place will guide us and transpire before us in the form of art, serving as a guidepost, and a reminder that there are much bigger things we haven’t discovered – the questions we haven’t answered, stories we have not yet told, and dreams we haven’t yet had.
Art tells the stories of our journey on planet earth, our collective history, the ins and outs, and what makes us a human being.
Soraya Sikander is a leading contemporary south Asian artist known for her landscapes and organic forms, with sold out exhibitions at leading galleries, museums and biennales. sorayasikander.com; Instagram: sorayasikander