Philosophy – “Why an Artist should not Explain their Work” – 12/1/2020

“Meaning. As a word, it should explain itself.”

– Modern Romanticism

Art has meaning. It has meaning within meaning. It has layers of its own meaning. Each layer descends atop the previous one, just as clothing for a woman might be removed to reveal the beautiful and vulnerable sculpture beneath.

Peel back the layers, and one sees truth. Yet, it should be done, immediately. Why must an artist need to explain meaning? Upon when a viewer becomes confused to the “message” behind a work, why should someone else, even the artist, explain it, to remedy the confusion? If such becomes the case, then the artist has failed is their attempt to make meaning universal. They’ve become among the arrogant of this world, believing their meaning to be “specific” to them, rather than creating art that can connect. For it is only the narcissist who sees their reflection in its specific shape, not ever daring to see another’s.

Art is never narcissistic, never egotistical, never selective upon who is considered to matter, when it connects through what has depth. Of depth, there is meaning. Among everything meaningful, we are each meant to see ourselves, as humans, as all vulnerable, as all bared to the reflection that might be the painted canvas, before us.

Though, if the artist too much sought to make specifics, and did not implement enough meaning so universal, they will indeed attempt to explain their work. Though, such an explanation will only arrive upon a viewer’s noticeable confusion, to the art.

It can only be that this confusion results, or originates, from the innate function of a human brain that is actually questioning the art for why it is not universal. For it must be that, in their confusion, to see the art as not being “universal”, is the same to say the work is not human. As in, to connect, for connection could only ever be artistic and universal.

Why else would a viewer to art question it, if the very act of being confused is not for segregation’s sake? One can easily imagine the artist pulling the confused viewer to a quiet room, to privately explain the work, in greater detail. Though, why couldn’t the art, itself, do the explaining?

To imagine if a Comedian told a terrible joke, to the reacted confusion of their viewers for what was said, might result in further explanation for clarity’s sake. By then, the humor has dried up, and the Comedian has met failure.

“Connection” would be the implement of a Comedian to make their entire audience laugh. If there are those who did not find the Comedian’s jokes to be humorous, to then begin scorning them, it could only be that such listeners are searching for specifics by way of humor. The “specifics” aspect of this, is all to know the difference between a representation of something certain, to a representation of something universal.