A main theme for my non-fictional writing this year will be art and beauty, or beauty in art. It might sound like an obvious choice for an art critic, but the thing is:
It is not!
It is almost as if the concept beauty has become a taboo. Or as Marilynne Robinson says in the opening of her excellent essay ON BEAUTY (Tin House):
It has seemed to me for some time that beauty, as a conscious element of experience, has gone into abeyance among us.
Robinson carries on to say that the problem is not shortage of beauty, but rather it has to do with finding an appropriate way to talk about it.
For me, this is a core definition of beauty: that it is both rigorous and dynamic and that it somehow bears a deep relationship to truth.
– Marilynne Robinson
So; how can we think and write about beauty without sounding naïve and simple-minded (as if we are forgetting all the troubles of the world, forgetting that we live in a racist, violent and discriminating society which seems to try to extinct itself through pollution and exploitation)?
Maybe we could turn things around, and say that focusing on beauty is not an act of repression, but rather a necessary thought provoking and critical position which makes us aware of what is worth fighting for?
We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.
– Annie Dillard