Why I Always Return to Art: The Treachery of Images / by Jahan Sharif

The Treachery of Images, René Magritte 1929

The Treachery of Images, René Magritte 1929

I’m often asked why I return to art. Here’s why.

Part 1

  1. Fundamentally, art is a gimmick.

  2. At its best, a piece of art is a snapshot of the highest expression of the artist’s intention at one particular point in time.

  3. However, the creative process is not a static experience; the artist evolves as they make art.

  4. Which means that the highest expression of the artist who started the work is different from that of the artist who finishes the work.

  5. Which means that no single piece of art can ever fully capture all of the artist’s intention at any particular point in time.

  6. Art then, is a pursuit— the physical manifestation of “I tried my best.”

  7. Artists, of course, know their work is imperfect— and yet they still put it out there: That’s courageous.

  8. And then, regardless of the response (or perhaps in spite of it) they try again. Artists are resilient.

  9. I have a special respect for people who try really hard at something knowing it will be imperfect, do it anyway, and then try really hard again to do better the next time.

  10. I am attracted to art, because I am first attracted to artists.

Part 2

  1. Why a gimmick?

  2. A gimmick is a trick or device intended to attract attention.

  3. Gimmicks should be owned by their authors.

  4. Remember Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial “Think Different.”? That’s a good example of an effective gimmick.

  5. An effective gimmick moves you from one point to another point.

  6. Apple’s commercial took your curiosity (point #1), and then made you care about Macintosh computers (point #2).

  7. Take another example: René Magritte’s, The Treachery of Images. (pictured)

  8. If this is not a pipe, then what is it? What’s Magritte trying to say?

  9. Perhaps he’s saying that despite what you see, it is not all there is to know? (#InstagramFOMO)

  10. He took our passing interest (point #1), and moved me to think about other possibilities? (Point #2).

Art makes me think about (and rethink about) the real world— and that’s why I like it.

New York City, New York, USA
June 2019