Before beginning a painting, the first step is to decide what to paint. As obvious as this first impulse may seem, it is ultimately the hardest factor in painting. The question “what is art?” has always made society somewhat closed minded about art itself. Why define expression? The idea that one painting in a museum receives more recognition compared to the other which hangs in an elder woman’s home, is almost absurd. Who is to say Ad Reinhardt’s Abstract Painting, located in the MoMa, is any more interesting than scattered drawings on top of a kindergarden teacher’s desk? When did a large black canvas become art?
Perhaps the word ‘art’ has, through time, become somewhat misused, like ‘love’ for example. How quickly a couple that claims to “love” each other may end up parting ways after being unfaithful to one another, or even excusing their actions with pitiless words such as “there is someone else” or “the love is simply gone.” The comparison here is simple, the definition of both words remain unclear. ‘Love’ as stated in the English dictionary, means a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, yet society tends to link this word to the idea of “forever lasting,” therefore how can it end?
On the other hand, ‘art’ means “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful.” So, what is beautiful? What is love? What is art? Is it safe to say that in order to give life to a painting with the stroke of a brush, one must first answer these questions?
All these thoughts run through a young girl’s mind, as she hangs up one of her paintings in her new room. On the bottom right corner of the painting is 11/23/03 in black paint and she slowly remembers that day, 5 years ago, when she completed her abstract work of art. She remembers sitting on a wooden chair in her veranda, with a decent sized canvas in front of her, and a set of acrylic paint, given to her by her grandmother. She spent hours that day trying to decide what to paint. Realize of course, she was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, upstate to be exact, and her house faces endless hills of trees and pastures with incredible sunrise views. She had plenty to paint about.
But today, looking down at the painting in her hand, she realizes that the colors had nothing to do with typical beautiful mornings in Morro Azul. She then remembers that the painting came from performing in a school dance…
The theme was world peace and every class was to perform a dance from a different country. She was part of the final dance called Aquarela, meaning ‘watercolor’ in Portuguese. The dance used the idea of colors blending together to represent world unity, the problem was that the color yellow did not blend in. She completely forgot the choreography and danced almost opposite in every move. The audience laughed, but in a way, that embarrassing moment helped her decide what to paint. Her abstract work was a product of her realization that the irony she “created” by dancing on her own can be art if it represents reality – the world is not united.
Stick figures is art to child as a black canvas is art to Reinhardt. Straightening the painting on the wall she figures that what makes a painting art, is the feeling the artist acquires from creating the work even if it doesn’t appeal to everyone. So on the 23rd of November, Stephanie spent the rest of her afternoon painting the word ‘aquarela’ all over her canvas in different shapes and fonts and colors, thus creating her favorite painting.
© 2013 Stephanie Alfaia Gomes All Rights Reserved