Often when I feel down, good art is uplifting. There is something pleasurable about viewing a nice piece of artwork. Good art captures the spirit of something, the soul that is within, a thing that mere photography often is unable to capture. Good photography often does capture these things; but good art almost always captures these things.
Artists often create their work through great pain. For some artists, this pain is often so intense that the end is usually not a good one. Van Gogh is a good example of this. Much of this brilliance stems from his own inner tortures, his psychic maelstrom. His paintings, alive with color and energy, seem to reflect the frenzied activity that constantly plagued his mind. In the end it cost him his life, to suicide, although it gave posterity some wonderfully intense creations.
I think this is why a good artists can capture the essence of eroticism in a way that transcends the mere sexual. Often through pain we grow spiritually and there is something spiritual about eroticism; lust and sex are merely animal, fun and pleasurable in their own way, yes, but still animal. Eroticism is something deeper, more profound, my transcendent. Eroticism can embody love in a way that pure sex cannot; the hint of something deeper, the allusive poetry of passions and emotions and timeless bonds, all these things can be expressed through eroticism. It is not merely about sex.
This is why good erotic art, whether merely a painting or perhaps more, conveys and captures something of this elemental power in our lives. The good artist, perhaps tested through pain and suffering, has learned to be sensitive to these deeper elements in the world, and through that sensitivity he can create a more nuanced depiction of eros, and often does.
Eroticism is all around us, always, daily. The smile, the flirtatious glance, the seemingly innocent but still suggestive conversation, the imagination and wondering about those we find attractive, the hopes and dreams of a future together with someone, the longing for physical intimacy, all these things are part of the erotic sea we are all awash in. This is why I feel erotic art has a place in the world, as an expression of these basic, fundamental part of our lives. We seek sex, love, intimacy, all of us do. It is the role of the artist to recreate these things in their art forms, whether through writing, music, painting, sculpture, film, or photography. To deny artists this desire would be as futile as denying those prehistoric men who painted buffalo, deer, and lions on cave walls 35,000 years ago the same desire to recreate the world around them.
As I stated above, this need to recreate the world around us through art is a fundamental part of our humanity. And the sexual, the erotic, whether we like or not, or how much in denial we are, is a basic part of our world. It is part of what makes us human and so, for me, it is a legitimate, even healthy source of artistic expression. Only the likes of Michelle Bachmann and her religious nut case, Taliban like followers who now run the Republican party would think otherwise. I am sure they would enjoy burning the image posted above, just as the Taliban enjoyed destroying those ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan a decade ago. Oh yeah, and let me not forget to mention once again my contempt for the neo-Puritanical feminists too who hate all things sexual because they hate all things male…etc. Again, I have equal contempt for both sides of this same humorless and pleasure hating coin. They usually pose a serious threat to all good art and the free expression of artistic desires.
Now by “erotic art” I don’t just mean any drawing or depiction of sex; rather, it has to be good, have some aesthetic merit. Of course this is all subjective judgement on my part, and what I find good someone else may not. That is fair enough. But good erotic art can reach a level of meaning that goes beyond the mere depiction of sexuality. As I said, good erotic art captures something of the soul in what is being depicting, something of the mystery and ineffable allure of sexual desires and fantasies. For me, there is a poetic quality to good art, even erotic art. I seek that out. Some good erotic art can be exceptionally good. Even explicit erotic art, which some might call porn, can be exceptionally good. I hope the things I post on this blog convey some sense of taste and artistic merit. To write about the good, artistic expression of eroticism is what I am striving for. Too much of this is wound up in shame and secrecy and hypocrisy, and those are things I enjoy breaking down. Too many people suffer because they enjoy erotic things; they feel alone and isolated, both men and women, or guilty about their sexual desires and fantasies. If done in a healthy way, I don’t think an enjoyment of erotic art is necessarily bad or harmful. It may not be for everyone, of course, but for many, it is a secret enjoyment and one I celebrate. As I said, seeing good art, and good erotic art, is a pleasurable experience for me.