A TREATISE ON AESTHETIC & ANXIETY : A LOVE LETTER


Aesthetically I was inspired by Etienne Louis Boulle and his discussion on Cenotaph for Isaac Newton. In his “Architecture, Essay on Art,” he quotes Montesquieu’s image of perfection; strict symmetry that simultaneously juxtaposes the greatest possible variety. According to Boulle symmetry is pleasing because it is the image of clarity which satisfies the mind that always seeks to understand, it is clear and in order. Secondly, Variety is pleasing because it satisfies a spiritual need of the mind which by its very nature craves renewal and innovation that offers the mind the possibility of hope and positive expectancy even in the midst of disorder. Controlled Chaos evokes variety within clarity through a pattern of random strokes constrained in a square. I attempted to accentuate the chaotic element in the wild strokes of blue. The blue color scheme heightens the chaos because its a deep color that really arouses mystery, similarly to the ocean. I chose blue specifically because its entire spectrum represents extremely deep human emotions that range from sadness to despair. The third aesthetically pleasing quality of the mind according to Boulle is grandeur because human beings yearn to embrace the universe. The human spirit aspires to believe in a higher existence more complex than our empirical knowledge because the inexplicability of its greatness satisfies our lust for infinite possibilities which relates to the second aesthetically pleasing quality(variety). Grandeur is so pleasing because it is unfathomable, if it is too great/ mysterious to be understood then we can accept that there are things that are simply inexplicable and beyond our reason. This acceptance gives the mind that always seeks to clarify and understand, peace; and to some even meaning or purpose that their vain lives might mean something greater in the enormity of the universe or in an immaterial realm. This concept is educed by the unpredictable blue waves and the vastness of the ocean’s beyond.


The more time I’ve spent observing the external world, questioning my internal experiences and natural qualities the more I have come to believe that reality is made up of an interplay of opposing forces. This new perspective was life altering because if the good and the bad are both necessary to achieve a harmonic ratio then you don’t stress over the bad because it’s nothing more than a means for Harmony. Harmony titillates my mind because I have read music being compared to perfection in architecture, love, and other philosophies and I didn’t understand it until after reading Aristotle. Harmony consists of simultaneous notes following a rhythm. Likewise, human beings are continuously perfect in their chaos and natural rhythm. Through Aristotle I have learned that the end of human life is completeness and peace which is achieved through perfect balance of these opposing forces. Boulle believed that the cenotaph was the peak of architecture because of its balanced shape. Imagine a sphere floating in mid air spinning interminably; all the points at the edge of the sphere are at equal length from the center making it the easiest shape to grasp (clarity), simultaneously it is variant because our mind is intrigued by its continuing form, still or spinning we are constantly and infinitely inquiring what will be on the other side(variety).

Ultimately I was intrigued by Grandeur because it seemed to complement and satisfy both clarity and variety resulting in the upmost aesthetic pleasantness. I believe that there is a universe within every human being, which is something I understood when I read Joseph Cambell, “all the gods, all the heavens, all the hells are within you.” There is grandeur and continuous perfection not besides but within our chaos. This is what I tried to project by constraining the balance of chaos and mystery as great as an ocean inside a square. When I read Boulle’s analysis of the balance human nature requires, the yin and yang Chinese symbol came to mind. This inspired me to focus the darker shades on one side and the lighter shades on the opposite side. I added streaks of dark on the lighter end and light streaks on the darker end projecting the yin yang balance of the good in the bad and the bad in the good. The blue color scheme I chose to symbolize human emotion reminded me of The Great Gatsby because Gatsby, in the midst of the living hell he felt knowing that Daisy was married to another man while apart from him managed to find hope that he might one day be with her. Fitzgerald symbolizes this hope with a green light at the other side of the port. This light gave Gatsby visual comfort that what he wanted was closer than it seemed and inspired him to do the impossible to reach her. I projected this idea onto the painting because I think hope is essential in the reality of achieving a good balance in life. Hope is what catalyzes an individual’s choice to cross over from a dark stage in life and strive towards a better end. I used a lighter shade of green on the lighter side of the painting and then a lighter shade fading to yellow and white at random points to symbolize hope and a light at the end of the tunnel within the darkness.

In the exact center of the painting the random strokes of blue form a circle of light and dark shades of blue symbolizing the perfect balance of disorder and order within exterior disorder and evokes the human soul at its peak, full, complete, infinitely and continuous regardless of the exterior circumstances. Overall all of these concepts point at the ultimate completeness which is eternity or infinity. Humanities greatest imperfection is mortality and the bounds time imposes on our lives. For a human and a soul to be complete they must be continuous and infinite because once it stops there is an unbalance in its variety and lack of continuity. Since time is relative to our finity this painting portrays Infinity within us in the midst of our finity; which is ultimately happiness through completeness and a balance we can reach in this finite and imperfect human life.

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