“I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I see it…”
The act of creating art is the purest expression of the creative impulse. An artist creates are because he is driven to express something within himself, to give that thing a form which can serve as a reflection of some part of his inner being. An artist does not create art because he wants to; he creates are because he must. That drive, that thing within him which needs to be expressed in order to be realized, drives him to do it; he must create art or it will destroy him.
It does not matter if that art is understood by others. It does not matter what personal cost is associated with the expression of that art. The art itself is its own justification, its own reason for being. It is a reflection of the artist, a defense against the Void, and the tangible embodiment of the thing within the artist which forces him on to the creative act, all in one.
That kind of art is a bit like love: it can not be found where it does not exist, and it can not be concealed where it does. You can recognize it when you see it, immediately; that, I think, is the essence of the spiritual response to art.
I can see it in the works of Michaelangelo and Vincent van Gogh, I can hear it in the music of Beethoven and Front Line Assembly and Mozart and Vast, I can spot it in the writings of Willaim Shakespeare and William Gibson. And it makes no diffeence what form it takes; I experience the same response to it.
Art does not need to be pretty. It does not need to be uplifting. It can be primal and base and still be art, because we as human beings are primal and base, and that which illuminates the human condition is art. It van be vulgar and sexual, because we as human beings are vulgar and sexual animals, though we try to pretend we’re not. Art is genuine, even when it shows us something that makes us uncomfortable.