Friday, September 13, 2013

I sense beauty - we all do. Even people who might bury their perception of the Aesthetic in cynicism or scorch it with lust feel the influence. They may call it something different - or they may have lost the ability to call it anything. Nonetheless.

I however seek to find a sort of beauty - or create it. The better word is pursue. I pursue beauty.

It then seems, at first, very strange that I should have trouble identifying something that is beautiful. Is it because beauty is so subjective? I hardly think so. The position of a completely objective beauty is nearly impossible to defend, but so really is a completely subjective beauty - eyes and their beholders notwithstanding.

No, I think it is because of the way beauty (beauty has had the terrible misfortune to become a tragically and pathetically abused word) is defined. And I do not really mean defined because the truth is that there no longer exists a definition for the word. Is it something that pleases my senses? Can I taste beauty? Certainly I can hear it. Can I feel it - like a slow touch on my skin or an electric kiss? Can the totally abstract be beautiful? Can a feeling feel beautiful? Is "beautiful" feminine like "pretty" has become?

Is beautiful a word that means something inherently more than another? Is it greater than cute, or quaint, or pretty? Is it less than gorgeous or stunning? Does it suddenly change if you are speaking to an English person or an American person?

And then there is a question of utility. Kant thought that art - and perhaps beauty - was not truly art if it was useful in any way - that it must stand alone. But many have trouble of separating the two at all. Utility, they say, is beauty.

But the task here is to write about something that is beautiful. A specific something. In this case it must somehow surpass the common and "stupefy." It must ring into the senses with force. It must be a violent intruder into the mind. That is a lot to require in a search. And so maybe it is not so strange that I spent much more time than I originally anticipated I would. I scoured my online galleries of paintings, searched fashion blogs, watched youtube clips of films I admire ---

In the end this was the image that I chose.

The image shows the nude body of a woman firmly grasped by a pair of masculine hands . The soft gradient of highlight to shadow placed starkly against the black of the surrounding accentuates the sense of intimacy already created by the apparent context of the nudity and all it implies. The suggestion of intimacy is furthered by the texture - the indent of her of her flesh where it is pressed upon by his hands gives a sensuous and powerful sense of texture. 

To me what makes this photograph arresting is the knowledge of what it truly is. Far from a boudoir snapshot of soft skin - this is solid, unyielding marble. The photograph is a detail from a sculpture by the master Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  That knowledge adds a sense of wonder and amazement. How could something so sensual be hewn from stone? It is far outside my skill to accomplish and therefore startling. And what is more, the intimacy is a fraud an illusion accomplished by the photographer (whose name I cannot discover), for this is not an image of tender love. 

This is The Rape of Persephone.

No comments:

Post a Comment