Art is a virus

Entitled Ushabtis Hetheru this is a bronze sculpture of a partial female figure with an exposed interior structure created by sculptor Blake Ward

According to Tolstoy, art was to be judged by its level of contagion; essentially art is a virus.

He said: “A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.” [1]

The distance between our worlds is erased because that story; the one that is silently being told, is ‘our’ story.

This is the magic of art; when there is nothing between the heart of the viewer and the heart of the artist.

Tolstoy advocated that art was a human condition, a vehicle of empathy and communication, a “means of intercourse between man and man”. [2]

He said that art was based upon the idea that the observer can experience the same emotions as the artist (or even other viewers).

He termed this “infectiousness”.

If the artist could infect the viewer with the same emotions then it was to be defined as art.

He saw it as “a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”[3]

Tolstoy argued that there were three conditions necessary; individuality, clearness and sincerity.

While uniqueness and clarity are important, it is the sincerity of the artist’s emotion that carries the most weight.

We recognize truthfulness.

Art is, furthermore, timeless, eternal.

Art is immortal.

Bridging together people, eras, cultures and lifetimes. [4]

Infectiousness creates these connections, allowing us to fall in love with a work of art created hundreds of years ago because we recognize the expressed emotion as if it had been our own to begin with!

This level of contagion is what we, as artists, strive for.

Reaching for your hearts with ours.

As Blake often says about his Spirit collection: “The tangible human form slowly disappears, making room for the ephemeral, the spiritual, and if I have succeeded as a sculptor, I will disappear as well, because it’s not about me, it is about you, the observer.”

Written by Boky Hackel