Pressing Blues to Prussian Blues: Translating Pain to Art

Vincent van Gogh died mentally unstable and materially impoverished, but lived immensely creative. Much of what we call artists' eccentricities are instances when they draw their creativity from seemingly negative emotions. Van Gogh is a case in point. It is perhaps time to move beyond the cliched notion of cigarettes puffing in inspiration and look at creative indulgences as the best way to 'artfully 'vent negativity of thought and the trauma of negative experiences. After all, what better way to use your blues, than to paint the sky and the seas with them? 

To go through pain is to have a wound cut open. Where it might not be socially acceptable to dwell on the pain, art allows for its recognition as well as expression. Creative agency requires a certain hypersensitivity-like an exposed nerve. The vulnerability of being in pain makes our eye capable of not shrinking to the skin and of seeing deeper through. Pain is consumptive. One tends to be immersed in it, living through every minute detail multiple times, often bringing one's life to an impasse. The key is to transform this into creative labor, where you render the pain, in all its detail, through brush strokes, metaphors or couplets. Creative endeavors are therapeutic. Art creates a replica of the pain. In the process, it demands extensive energy from the artist, replacing pain with a sense of accomplishment. 

In an X-Men movie, an officer at Auschwitz ejaculates that pain is what unlocks Magneto's power. Art, although equally whimsical and consuming as pain, transforms an essentially destructive energy to creative energy. Perhaps Magneto could have creatively harnessed his pain had he directed it at a canvas instead of at people, because art has the space to express anger, pain and vengeance in all their vile.



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Teza M George

Teza M George

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