Art, culture and society. The significance of knowing the ethnic origin of one artist for the interpretation of his work

Art, culture and society. The significance of knowing the ethnic origin of one artist for the interpretation of his work

Art is one of the essential components of Culture. Originating from the ancient times of civilization, art is in a complex interaction with the philosophy and science, politics and law, with morality and religion. This interaction: on the one hand, art reflects reality and is influenced by each of the forms of social consciousness, enriched by their specific content, without losing its specificity as an artistic and imaginative reflection of life. On the other hand, art itself has an impact on science, philosophy, politics and morality. And it is important that art does not only present today’s spiritual life, but also have a continuous effect of previous stages of its development. This extends the scope of meaning of art, increases the possibility of its artistic and aesthetic impact.

It is the art that reflects in different forms human life, all its sides. That is why there is a claim that the ethnic origin of works of art and artist are important characteristics for understanding and interpretation of works of art.

The ethnic characteristics of Japanese works of art

The study of cultural models of Japanese culture helps to determine the socio-historical and ethnic context in which cultural traditions were made, cultural and psychological context in which were formed artistic and aesthetic tastes, attitudes and norms. The openness of the Japanese to new, the willingness and ability to borrow external signs of modern life do not prevent them to carefully protect the identity of their inner cultural world, the uniqueness of their spiritual culture.
The main factor determining the context of the formation of the Japanese consciousness and aesthetic relationship to reality – is Japanese national cultural traditions, defined both by common regional characteristics of East Asian countries, and by Japanese peculiarities, which have in basis the historical development of Japan, its system of religious beliefs and the Japanese national psyche. (Art history resources on web)

The peculiarities of Japanese culture and art style

First of all Japanese artists have peculiar sense of beauty, that can be seen in all kinds of art: Japanese paintings, music and literature. Beauty as an aesthetic category for the Japanese is fleeting, unrepeatable: the movement of the soul, mind, the play of light and shadow, the play of colors. Japanese artists see beauty not in things themselves, and their combinations, the weave pattern of light and shade. Japanese artist can draw in the sand or on the water despite that this work does not live long, but it fully satisfies both artist and viewer, who managed to see and enjoy the moment depicted.

According to the Japanese, there is nothing ugly in nature, you just have to learn to see the beauty of things. Beauty by the nature is good, it is in everything and everywhere, and what is beautiful is good. Okakura Kakudzo told the country visitors who did not understand the behavior and values of Japanese people: "Let us calmly sipping our tea and admire the bamboo grove in the dappled afternoon sun, listening to the murmur of a fountain and the rustle of the pines. Let us have the pleasure of the fleeting and fascinating uselessness of things. " (Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy)
From all the said above it is possible to conclude, that to understand Japanese artists and arts it is necessary to understand the Japanese culture and national peculiarities of the ethnicity.

It is very difficult to understand and enjoy Japanese literature for person who does not know the Japanese culture, its peculiar literature genres and styles. For example the classical genre of Japanese poetry are verses in the style of "waka" (Japanese poem), also known as the tank ("short line"), because are composed of five rows, which have only 31 syllables.

Also there are some special types of Japanese art that are unique, which can be only created by indigenous Japanese, the connoisseurs of Japanese culture. Ikebana – is a traditional Japanese art of flower arranging, ikebana is "flowers that live." (Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy)

In Japan, ikebana has become a special kind of art, is widely applied in different spheres of public life, beyond the rituals offering symbolically important flowers to the Buddha. In Europe art of flower arranging demonstrate skills of the person who created it, while the creators of ikebana seek to identify not their preferences and tastes, not their personality, but natural essence of plants represented in ikebana, the profound meaning of their combination and arrangement - songs in general. In addition, the Europeans for the most part tend to luxury, ornamentation, rich flavor, while Japanese ikebana masters tend to limit the severity, even in the laconic form, sometimes being limited to two or three branches and focusing on the most simple and humble plants. ((Ember 2001))
Simplicity as a sign of originality, and identity as a sign of the whole - this is the credo of true art of ikebana. Their creations in this sense is similar to Japanese haiku poetry: what distinguishes them is the same brevity, depth and perfection.

The art of ikebana in Japan today is one of the most popular, it is recognized as a symbol of national identity and as the embodiment of high artistic taste, recognized throughout the world.

False idea of ease and accessibility of art of ikebana, unfortunately, often lead to the fact that outside of Japan it becomes a pseudo art. In the West, ikebana is considered sometimes as easy and pleasant experience in spare time, while in Japan this art continues to be the subject of serious learning, a long and arduous training, the development of a sacred ritual, since many of ikebana is not only an essential element of national cultural traditions, but present perfect model of the universe. (Ember 2001)

The aesthetic sense is not only in creation a composition of ikebana, but in the process of learning this art. Schools of Ikebana, the process of learning this art appeared in the context of Japanese culture as a distinct, largely insulated from everything else "pedagogical province", where the learning process is very long and where wise mentors mainly of hard work on the identification and cultivation of a comprehensive natural talents of their wards. Here lives an atmosphere of peculiar piety, respectful empathy in cosmic rhythm of life that has taken the form of special ceremonies. (Ember 2001)

Nature itself teaches Japanese to appreciate the moment, so the most important is not construction techniques of ikebana, but mental workout.
Japanese art have a strong tradition: so many centuries have passed but the Japanese have their traditional styles in arts. In Japanese art there are no similar works, and even now works of art of Japanese masters can not be confused with works of art from other countries. In the Japanese art the time has slowed its progress, but has not stopped , in it the traditions of ancient times have survived to this day.

Works sited:

“Japanese art”. Art history resources on web. Web. 31 July 2010
Addiss, Stephen. “How to look at Japanese art”. Web. 31 July 2010
Ember, M., and Ember, C. “Countries and their Cultures”. New York Pearson Education, 2001
Leaman, O. “Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy”. London: New York Taylor & Francis Routledge, 2001.

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