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It is a question often asked in conversation, sparking a lively debate on the glorious and fuzzy subject about the definition of art. Everyone has an opinion.

Art and psychology and as a form of therapy.

Sigmund Freud theorised that the artist has an unfulfilled longing for honour, power, riches, fame or sex; he turns away from the harsh reality and transfers his feelings to a creation of fantasy.All this may be true, but can the artist not only paint and create because it gives him pleasure?

Still on the Couch

He further explains that exploring art can be a form of escape and an outlet for repressed emotions and an inner conflict that the artist might be experiencing. It allows for the expression of thoughts and feelings in a constructive and feasible way. Painting and creating can have a soothing, almost narcotic effect on both the artist and to the viewer of the completed work of art.

I confess that there were times during my child-rearing years that I experienced emotional turmoil and frustration.Parenthood does bring many highs, lows and uncertainties and I found the best therapy to quieten my mind was to engage in an art or craft project. Art helped me at times to make sense of it all.

Art and spirituality

Art is said to nourish the spirit; art is the result of inspiration, which in itself has a  spiritual nature. It is through his creation that the artist can project his inspiration or enlightenment on to the spectator.There are many views on spirituality and religion in art. Over the ages, art and religion have always been closely interwoven. Historically art was always dictated to by the religions and ideologies of the time.During the Middle Ages, the only painted images that were permissible were those of religious icons. Thankfully times have changed and today almost anything goes in art.

I like Wassily Kandinsky’s explanation of spirituality in art

 “When man’s religion, science and morality are shaken, and when the outer supports threaten to fall, he turns to himself and literature, music and art.” In other words, perhaps it is art itself that civilises us?

Art is just … well, Art.

But can art ultimately be explained? Many argue that one shouldn’t even try, but it is human nature to be inquisitive and to analyse, solve mysteries and to attempt to find answers and solutions.Art connects us to each other, to our physical world, to the past, present and even to the future.

May the question “What is art?” remain an old faithful at the dinner party table.

“I don’t know what art is but I know some things it isn’t when I see them” The artist Georgia O Keeffe -I couldn’t agree more!