Nature – Beauty

The nature of beauty is often debated. The form, content and performance are all relevant to the aesthetic experience. One of the most powerful portraits that I ever saw was of Myra Hindley, the child murderer, painted by Marcus Harvey using children’s hand prints. The scale and form of the painting, as well as the subject, shocked many people. I think someone actually attacked the painting, as if the art work itself was complicit in the crimes of the person portrayed.

You are on much safer ground with landscapes and representations of nature. Turner’s seascapes may have shocked contemporary viewers, the Impressionists came in for a lot of stick, and photo realism divides opinions in the art world; but these criticisms do not have the anger that is provoked by an unmade bed or a pile of bricks.

A First Rate Man-of-War, Driving on a Reef of Rocks, and Foundering in a Tempest © Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter.jpg (800×530)

Another art exhibit that struck me as moving, only became so after I had read the meaning of the work on the little bit of blurb on the wall nearby. The work was created  using dried rice that formed a rutted field. Under the rice were red neon lights about two metres in length. The impression I got initially, was that of a clever piece of work showing imagination and creativity. After reading the blurb, the killing fields of Asia were brought to mind.The soft, red glow had become the blood spilled and the lives lost in terrible revolutions.


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