Once, while working in his atelier, Henri Matisse realized that in order to make art, you have to be brave and so he made the statement that ended up being the title of this article. But.. what was he trying to say?
The process of making something is known to work more as a relief rather than an act of bravery and as a person who studies art and tries to find her way as artist, I can say that it does but still, it is not the perfect activity for the fainthearted. But why? The answer to that question is what I am trying to approach here, although it is not an easy task nor there is a right answer.
Art is based on the experiences of the creator. They may not always be actual experiences, they can also be imaginary ones. So, even if the art is not realistic in a way that it depicts reality naturalistically , it is somehow based on it. Even when the artwork that is completely abstract or something that presents the entire opposite of reality as we know it, it’s still coming as a result of it because the mind of the maker has been developed in a specific environment – whether they fit in or not – with specific characteristics.
The bravery of the artist comes when they dare to look at reality with bare eyes, no extra filters. I cannot describe this better than Plato did, more than 2000 years ago using the Allegory of the Cave. In case you are not familiar with it, while trying to describe how it felt to be a philosopher, Plato said that a group of people had been tied up in a cave since birth, with their backs turned on the entrance, unable to turn their heads while a fire is burning. As the sun comes in, form behind, the fire creates a reflection of everything that’s happening outside the cave on the wall in front of them. Since they’ve lived there their whole lives at this state, they consider this to be the reality. When one of them escapes and goes out into the world, he’s able to see the actual reality and the sun but when he comes back to tell the rest, since his eyes have gotten used to the light, he can no longer see the shadows, so everyone believes that he’s gone blind and they never take him seriously.
So, an artist, here is the person who escapes the cave and then depicts reality as he or she saw it. That demands courage and will power. But is it really a choice for the artist-creator? I think that in some rare cases it isn’t – a person is just born that way – but in general it is. Creativity is something that each person could have in their lives and even the slightest thing, like taking up painting lessons as a hobby or writing poems on your free time is a choice that takes courage. Mostly because you sacrifice time and energy for it. But not only for that.
Above all the rest, creativity takes courage because it always works as a form of exposure. Whether you are Michelangelo or the piano player for your church, you put yourself, your emotions and your personal work out there for people to judge. You have to be brave to stand fearlessly on a stage with all those sets of eyes focused on you with expectation and open your mouth to say that firs line of the play or play the first note of the concerto.
That is the reason why, in my opinion it is essential for everyone to have a form of creativity in their every day life. Having a creative job or a hobby can test your limitation and expand your boundaries. It can help you learn so much about yourself and set you free in a million new ways. So, if you think you don’t have time for something creative in your life right now, you’re wrong. There’s always space for something to clear our soul. I know it takes courage but dare it and you’ll see what I mean…
have a magical day,
by Elena Ktenopoulou