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Arts and Entertainment

Opinion: What is art?

The nature of artistic experience is the key to answering the age-old question.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/rishivridha/" target="_self">Rishi Vridhachalam</a>

Rishi Vridhachalam

October 6, 2022

Art is any form of creative expression that transports the admirer to a different place. That place may be physical or emotional or symbolic. For example, to a better place like Monet’s “Lily Gardens of Giverny or a different place like the surrealist world of Dali, or to a dark and forbidding place like Edvard Munch’s “Scream.”

Of course, art is much more than just paintings. You may experience it at an opera house or sit on it at a furniture showroom or run your fingers through it on a temple pillar. At its very essence, art elevates the soul and irrevocably changes it. We shall never emerge unscathed once our eyes lay sight on a sketch or our ears hear the notes of a symphony or our fingers tingle with the wool of a Persian carpet. 

My favorite artwork is Albert Bierstadt’s “Cathedral Forest.” To me, this painting captures a moment in the immeasurable and vast ocean of time and is a grand depiction of the universe’s most dramatic artist, Nature herself. The play of light and shadows and the insignificance of human existence measured against the mighty sequoias are in full view.

Yet, as a reminder of the fate of all living things, there lies a felled tree trunk, perhaps by a bolt of lightning or a factor of age and decay, much like Shelley’s “Ozymandias (which also happens to be my favorite poem). When I gaze at this magnum opus, I’m transported to a better place, surrounded by nature, cocooned by beauty, and filled with humility.