Categories
Life

Understanding Architecture

Understanding architecture is akin to understanding art. It is, I suppose, similar to subscribing to a story that fits your perceptions. Consider the famous architect — Le Corbusier — who was somewhat minimalist. He desired that the houses of the future be ascetic and clean and frugal. Architecture for him was meant to be about mechanical efficiency. A home had only a few ambitions — to provide shelter, to be a receptacle for light and air, and a place to look at the stars.

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter active during the 17th century

Now consider art by Johannes Vermeer, which is a celebration of the ordinary. His famous work of art — The Little Street — shows the attractiveness and beauty in ordinary life. The Ferrari car, Gucci shoes and Michelin Star meal is an empty and vacuous representation of modern life that is wrongly celebrated.

An architectural design by my friend, Gayan, showing that ordinary lines and curves are indeed beautiful

Maybe society needs to change the narrative towards celebrating ordinary. It is the long walks, the appreciation of the rays of sunshine streaming in through the window, and the smile of a parent that ultimately matters. There is deeper meaning in art and architecture.

Another angle of the same property crafted by my friend Gayan

I’d like to segue into the school of thought perpetuated by Andrea Palladio during the 1500s. It is this school of thought that I would subscribe to. Palladio thought how architecture’s purpose is to make us better people. Calm, harmony and dignity are the virtues promised by architecture as per Palladio.

Although Gayan De Silva, a close friend, whom I’ve known for many years is probably not aware of how his work probably takes on the same philosophy that Palladio promoted, I see similarities. There is less noise in his work. There is balance, symmetry and the focus on space, and the dislike for ostentatiousness. Palladio was all about simplicity and ensuring that everything aligned with proportion.

There’s this assumption that simplicity is easy and cheap. In actual fact it is the opposite. It’s incredibly difficult to create something that is functional and a solution to inconvenience. Grandiosity is a travesty. And such ostentatiousness only serves to be costly and not useful.

Dieter Rams who designed Braun is the epitome of simple and useful design. A quote by HoraceThe art lies in concealing the art — offers an insight into how architecture should be showcased. Considering how influencial architecture has become today, maybe we need to change the narrative we want this influential art form to have.

There’s pleasure in simplicity. Because simplicity shows a lack of anxiety about being ignored. As a modern society that is comfortably cosseted in the 21st century, we possibly need to shift our focus and indeed our ideals onto the values that matter.

Rams and Vermeer possibly have a lot in common, and could offer us all a way when it comes to understanding architecture. Rams creates designs that are for everyday use, while Vermeer did art. The majority of these individuals have in some form or the other contributed so much to architecture. It is the guiding philosophy that we need to embrace.

Categories
Life

Why Art Matters

Let’s talk about books, about paintings; and, all things art. There are plenty of reasons why art matters, and you will realize that the reason for its importance has changed throughout many decades.

Certain things are just waiting patiently to be explored. And that exploration can lead to a change in conversation, and, possibly, a change in culture. For instance, we hear of art in its various forms that had shifted antediluvian attitudes towards women in this era.

Art is a gift, which needs to be generously shared with the world, irrespective of accolades or compensation. Make something that’s worth reading or deciphering so that it’s an idea that spreads. I wrote Crimson Spaces: Art as a Medium of Connectedness which offers an insightful look into what art actually can become. As you would have gleaned from the latter article — Art is carved by the agency of human emotion.

Why Art Matters?

Dillai Joseph’s painting titled Lady From The East — It’s an exploration of the human condition: A Woman Who Has Seen It All

Art, in my opinion, is the exploration of the human condition; and, the human condition is about overcoming adversity. And that’s beautiful since adversity has this dark way of introducing a man to himself. Art is doing that brave thing which is original and human to change someone for the better. 

For instance, art can reflect the zeitgeist of a certain time, like, Britain and the Pre-Raphaelites where art was used to counter the effects of brutal industrialization. Periodically, art has violated the canons of current literary taste during that time to evolve into something else. 

Still, art does have some other uses: art keeps us hopeful, art makes us less lonely, art rebalances us, art helps us to appreciate stuff, and art is propaganda for what really matters. Suffice to say art with its tumultuous imagery bivouacs in our brains for quite a long period of time. 

What Does History Say?

Another painting from Dillai Joseph titled Praying Hands — It is another exploration of the human condition where faith and hope collides

Christian art dominated Europe for a very generous 1000 years by making the whole monotheistic doctrine resonanting, emotionally attractive and incredibly appealing. 

The question of the purpose of art is a modern dilemma, one that didn’t exist in bourgeois society in history. Modern art tried to escape bourgeois society. Ironic that it ended up alienated from the general public and only enlightened millionaires can understand the complexity and mystery of an urinal or senseless colors splashed in a canvas. 

Why do artists offer part of themselves on such a prolific level? It is to connect with others. This generosity gives credence to an artist, and helps him or her to connect and garner a following. 

What I Think Art Means

I take on the position of Théophile Gautier who in 1833 stated — l’art pour l’art or art for art’s sake yet I sympathize with a different definition as well. Art had been an excellent tool for a myriad of intentions, but this is probably something that needs to be done away with. On the other hand, we hear of Marcel Duchamp who desires that art stands to be enigmatic, provocative and reeking of mystery. 

With capitalism being in the forefront of the world in 2020, artists today have become defenders of unfettered free enterprise, and, rightfully so. From reflecting on poverty and its issues, art today has become a veritable tour de force where it is the hobby of the super rich. From the Venice Biennale to art by Banksy, the investment in art is magnanimous. But let’s not forget the real meaning of art, one that Gautier would disagree with, which is to help us understand and appreciate the human condition.