What is Art and What is Beauty?

Maciej Rocki


Not Not Architecture #78, South Elevation, June 2010, 1 in a series of 204 paintings as investigations into Not Not, Andrew MacNair.

Philosophy of art traditionally deals with aesthetics asking two questions: what is art and what is beauty? These two questions are typical of western philosophy. Let’s move away from western philosophy and go east. The first Sanskrit literature is contained in the Vedas texts and in the last books of these texts. The Upanishads deal with philosophy. While western philosophy generally dealt with the material versus the immaterial and asking “What it is?” Upanishadic philosophy dealt primarily with two subjects: human suffering and dualism. The dualism discussed in the Upanishads is aimed towards what is perceived in reality versus what is actual reality. The distinction between what is in one’s mind and what is true reality had important reverberations for art. How can we distinguish between what is external to our minds to what appears in our minds? If art is an extension of our mind then it too is susceptible to the Upanishadic dualism of reality. If the artist only wants to communicate what is in one’s mind then they do not need to dwell more on this. Their art is an extension of their mind, which is their perception of reality. But if the artist is to take a humanitarian approach to art and want art to have a relation with the world (nature, humans, souls, reality), then the artists themselves must connect to the world. The Upanishads speak of Atman, or a divine self. This true-self is embodied in all humans and once one achieves their true-self they thereby become one with the ultimate universe. The pursuit of finding one’s true-self is what spawned multiple religions based on the Vedic texts, the most common three are: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. So, in regard to ancient Eastern philosophy and art, if you find your true-self, you then find the true form in the world around us, its colors, shapes, lines, movements, tensions, and so on. By finding this true form the artist can then recreate the world however he or she sees fit, whether on canvas or though design, and affect the minds and souls of others.


This is a little independent tabloid magazine looking into three expanding fields of Architecture, Not Architecture, and Not Not Architecture between ancient and future time and space.
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