Blog: Art is illuminating the quality, the truth of existence aka What Is Art?

Christine Alfery

Posted on July 11 2018

Flying Ballerina by Christine Alfery

Featured image: Flying Ballerina

A friend of mind Kay Lorbecki, who frequently sends me comments on my blogs sent me something that I would like to share. She recognizes that my constant question in my blogs is “what is art?” And those of you in the arts recognize that that question has been asked time and time again, and to date, and to arts credit and to the credit of those involved in the arts, it has not been pinned down to a solid, unmovable concrete answer. The concept of art, does change with the times. 

My need to maintain the “life” in art is what my blog is all about. The life in my own work and the life in the work that others who call themselves artists do. Kay is an artist. She said she understands art as follows: 


Joseph Conrad interesting as it pertains to “what is art.” 

Written in 1957, the title of the work is offensive, but the thoughts contained within are worth a look.

I am captivated by this line, “To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of

the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the

surrounding vision of form and colour, of sunshine and shadows: to make them pause for a look,

for a sigh, for a smile—such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for a few to achieve.”

This applies to my goal to make people stop and not just glance at my work but really see it and the

world it conveys. 



Kay send me the entire preface and I found the article rich in understanding. I personally like two sections and I will quote them here with my comments injected into them – by doing this you can see how I read and how I take things apart when I read and think about them – it is complex and yes one not only needs to think when they read this, I told Kay it was thick reading but beautiful, but one also needs to inject oneself into the reading and ask oneself just how is it that I understand that statement. So here goes:

“Art itself may be defined as a single-minded,” I understand single-minded as the artist herself, “attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, maniforld and one, underlying its every aspect.” Ok, I have trouble with that sentence because I hold the position that other and my higher power, the truth of an object depends on the beholder, thinking about and looking at an object. 

Here is the part I love, Conrad seems to understand truth as life. “It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspect of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential – their one illuminating and convincing quality – the very truth of their existence.” 

Art is illuminating the quality, the truth of existence. Wonderful. Yes, yes, yes.

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