Art versus evil

With the recent tragedies that have struck our nation and the ongoing tragedies that continue to plague the rest of the world, I began to think about the role of art in relation to such pain and anguish.  Art has been used for centuries to convey suffering to the rest of the world.  Consider Francisco Goya’s series of prints known as the Disasters of War.  He used art to show the real toll of the Penisular War, and depicted the brutality of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army against the Spanish.  His paintings are grounded in reality, as he uses scenes he himself had experienced.  Goya was perhaps one of the first photojournalists to truly give the public a firsthand account of war.  Etchings such as Goyas’ Esto es Peor(This is Worse), strikes horror in our hearts as we look upon the impaled and mutilated.

Esto es Peor, by Francisco Goya body of a rebel.  In this way, art is used as a medium to show the rest of the world the injustices that were done.  But to what end?  To evoke sympathy?  To stir change in the world? Or simply to shed some light on the evil that pervades humanity?    Whatever the motive of the artist, I do believe that these records of the horrors of humanity are a very powerful and valuable tool in allowing the rest of us to share and understand in the suffering of others.  Art, in the form of paintings and pictures, allow us to, in a small degree, feel the atrocities (manmade or natural) that have been inflicted upon the majority of the world.  And while compassion is an important feeling to inspire, does it help us rebuild and heal our wounds?  Perhaps it is a necessary first step.  But what about the art that sprouts up like wildflowers in a deserted concrete jungle?  In places and societies that have been ravaged by tragedy, art attempts to offer a solace from so much ugliness.I have heard about the benefits of art therapy on individuals who are on the road to recovery from a personal tragedy.  But art can be used on a much grander scale and is popping up in those places that need it the most. In Syria, a small creative movement emerged out of a war torn nation in the form of small art galleries and a call for artists.  These galleries and artists were forced to relocate to escape the detriment of the Syrian revolution of 2011.  It was then when Syrian artist Tammam Azzam began experimenting.

Freedom Graffiti by Tammam Azzam with digital art.  He is most famous for his recent projections of famous works of art against bullet ridden ruins of a city.  The intention of Azzam was, as quoted in the New York Times, to “to draw a parallel between ‘the greatest achievements of humanity with the destruction it is also capable of inflicting.’ ” But it also serves as a symbol of hope - hope that beauty and creativity will prevail, even in the midst of such destruction.