The unnecessary glorification of the tortured artist
For artists, their art is a conduit for them to express their emotions. Many artists tap into their baser, more honest side to produce their work.
However, most people seem to believe that art which comes from darkness is the only valid kind, and gives it more precedence over art that is birthed from more positive emotions, thinking such work to be shallow. To explain this phenomenon, it is important to think of why people actually consume art.
For many, consuming art can feel comforting. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to articulate their feelings in the way they want to, so they turn to artists to feel seen and understood.
However, this connection does not happen with happier art. Many people see light-hearted creations or uplifting work as not having any profound takeaways or being anything notable. This is why tragic and so-called "artistic" works are the ones that are usually critically acclaimed, and are recognised more as reflected in reviews and award shows.
The problem that comes from this is that it pushes the idea that artists must suffer for their creations to be good. Many young artists feel the pressure to only create art about their darker side, and neglect the part of them that might want to produce something that isn't very intense. Making art on a heavy topic usually requires one to go into a miserable state of mind and this puts a strain on one's mental health.
For a lot of people, creating art about their trauma can help them alleviate their pain and help cope with it. The painter John William Godward was known for his paintings of beautiful women drenched in opulence, which contrasts sharply with the unhappy and traumatic life he lived. On the other hand, artists like Caravaggio are lauded for their violently grotesque works which are supposed to reflect psychological realism. Both these artists were tortured souls, but one is remembered for the aesthetic value of his art, and the other for the meaning behind his.
It might also just be a matter of choice, or a change in mindset. K-pop group BTS made their start by writing music which was more angsty and rebellious. Not surprising, considering that they debuted as teenagers. As they have grown older, their music has become less painful and aggressive, and is now more about self-love and learning to accept themselves. Just because they are no longer singing about being sad does not mean they have downgraded.
At the end of the day, art is simply a representation of what an artist chooses to share with the world. One who spreads joy is not lesser than the one sharing their hardships. Both are valid in their own rights, and should be given the same level of appreciation.
Namreen has been stuck in the void for too long. Send help at [email protected]