Objective Art: The Real Art
Osho on Modern Art
WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT MODERN ART?
Asang, the first thing is, it is not art. For the first time something exists in the name of art which is not art at all. It is more a therapy than an art. Look at the modern paintings and you will be convinced of what I am saying. The painters must be insane; they have poured their insanity on the canvas. It helps them because it releases some tensions inside their being. It is a catharsis, but it is not art. It is therapy through art, but not art itself. If Picasso is prevented from painting, he will go mad. Vincent van Gogh went mad before he committed suicide. And I have been looking into his life deeply and my feeling is he went mad because he could not paint as much as he wanted. He had no money to paint. His brother was giving him money enough just to survive, and he was not eating for four days per week. He would eat only for three days and four days he will fast to save money to paint. How long can you do that?
But painting was more important for him than food — and it ended in madness. He could not paint as much as he wanted, and when he saw that there was no possibility to paint anymore — the brother is tired, the family is tired and nobody wants to help him and nobody wants to purchase his paintings — he committed suicide. The same would be the case with Picasso if he was prevented from painting: he would go mad or he would commit suicide. Suicide is the ultimate in insanity. But his paintings are a great help, a great relaxation. And it is not only so with painting; it is so with poetry, music, dance. Everything modern is a little crazy because modern man is a little crazy, off the center.
Gurdjieff has divided art into two categories. The modern art he calls subjective art. The ancient art — the real art — the people who made the pyramids, the people who made the Taj Mahal, the people who made the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, they were of a totally different kind. He calls that art objective art.
Subjective art is like vomiting. You are feeling sick, nauseous; a good vomit helps you to feel good. The poison is thrown out, you feel relieved. It is good for you, but not good for others. Now, in the name of modern painting, you are hanging vomited, nauseous, sickening things in your rooms. In the name of modern music you are simply getting into crazier spaces within you. It is subjective art.
Objective art means something that helps you to become centered, that helps you to become healthy and whole. Watching the Taj Mahal in the full moon, you will fall into a very meditative space. Looking at the statue of Buddha, just sitting silently with the statue of the Buddha, something in you will become silent, something in you will become still, something in you will become Buddha like. It is objective art, it has tremendous significance.
But objective art has disappeared from the world because mystics have disappeared from the world. Objective art is possible only when somebody has attained to a higher plane of being; it is created by those who have reached the peak.
They can see the peak and they can see the valley both. They can see the height of humanity, the beauty of humanity, and the sickness and the ugliness of humanity too. They can see deep down in the dark valleys where people are crawling and they can see the sunlit peaks. They can manage to create some devices which will help the people who are crawling in the darkness to reach to the sunlit peaks.
Their art will be just a device for your inner growth, for maturity. Modern art is childish — not childlike, remember, childish; not innocent but stupid, insane, pathological.
We have to get rid of this trend. We have to create a new kind of art, a new kind of creativity. We have to bring to the world again what Gurdjieff calls objective art.
The farmer was looking at one of those modern, abstract paintings. “It is a perfect picture of those fellows in New Delhi,” he said. “No matter which way you look at it, it does not make sense.” But the farmer is saying something which Picasso himself has said. Picasso has said, “The world today does not make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” If the world today does not make sense, that means more pictures, more music, more poetry is needed that makes sense — to help humanity to come out of this absurd state. That was the function of objective art: to help you come out of your absurd state. But Picasso says, “The world today does not make sense…” as if it was making sense in the past. It has never made any sense; the world has always been the same. But he finds a rationalization. He is saying, “If the world itself makes no sense, why should I paint pictures that do?”
If you ask me, that should be precisely the reason to make pictures that DO make sense. Otherwise, how is the world going to be helped? It needs music, it needs poetry, it needs dance. It needs paintings which can help it to rise above its misery, its schizophrenia, its neurosis, its psychosis. But Picasso himself is only a representative of the neurotic mind. Picasso became so famous for the simple reason that he represented us very clearly.
The marriage broker introduced a really ugly girl to a young man. The victim protested that the lady had misplaced eyes, a broken nose and a deformed face.
“Ah,” said the marriage broker, “it is apparent that you do not like Picasso.”
Looking at Picasso’s paintings, have you not felt it? Everything is deformed, misplaced.
I have heard that a very rich lady wanted a portrait of herself done by Picasso. He agreed for a fantastic sum. The lady was ready to pay. Six months he took to make the portrait.
When the portrait was ready, the lady looked at it and said, “Everything is okay; I just don’t like the nose. You will have to improve it.”
Picasso looked at the lady, then he looked at the painting and he said, “It is impossible.”
The lady said, “Why? I am ready to pay. If you want more money, I am ready to pay.”
Picasso said, “It is not a question of money. I don’t know where the nose is.”
His paintings are nightmarish. And it is not only Picasso; Picasso simply symbolizes the whole of contemporary art. He is the most representative modern artist. He is right, in a sense, because the world makes no sense. The world has never made any sense, but there have been people who created such art that it helped people to find some sense in a senseless world. And that finding of sense helps you tremendously to become centered.
“It is terrible to see men looking like girls, with long hair and all. You can’t tell the difference. I was sitting in a restaurant when a girl came in. I turned to the person at the next table and said, ‘Isn’t it terrible how girls look like boys these days?'”
“That’s my son,” she said, pointing to the girl.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were the mother.”
“I’m not,” the neighbor said indignantly. “I’m the father!”
Things are topsy-turvy. Things are becoming more and more topsy-turvy. The world seems to be less a cosmos now and more a chaos. In the ancient philosophies, cosmology was one of the most important things to be discussed. Now there seems to be no cosmos, no cosmology. The whole world seems to be in a chaos, as if all is accidental. Nothing seems to be essential, intrinsically valuable; everything seems to be just happening as an accident. And this is reflected in everything. It is reflected in art, it is reflected in science, it is reflected even in religion. We need again a cosmology. I know the world IS a chaos; that is a challenge for human consciousness to create a cosmos out of it. It is a tremendously valuable opportunity to create a cosmos. Just to say that it is a chaos, remain with it as it is, is to fall below human dignity; it is not accepting the challenge. It is really a great challenge to change yourself AND the world. It IS a puzzle, but it is a puzzle only if you have already concluded that there can be no meaning at all; otherwise it is a mystery, not a puzzle.
A mystery may not have any meaning, but it has significance. And there is a difference between meaning and significance — and significance is far more meaningful than meaning itself; significance is far more important. What meaning is there in a roseflower? — but significance certainly is there. Just think of a world without roses. It will be a poor world; some significance will be lost. What significance is there when you hear the sound of running water? Have you not felt some significance? Yes, meaning you cannot prove. Meaning seems to be imposed by the mind upon existence; significance seems to be part of existence itself. We have lost contact with the language that can understand significance; we only understand meaning. Meaning is intellectual, significance is existential. There is no meaning in love, but great significance; no meaning in God, but great significance; no meaning in meditation, but great significance, great splendor.
I would like to say to my sannyasins, Asang, that my sannyasins have to be not only meditative, they have also to be creative. And they have to create what Gurdjieff calls objective art. They have to create something which can help a wandering humanity to come to a resting place. Yes, much can be created that can give shelter, that can become a deep, deep experience of communion with nature.
That is the real function of art: helping people to commune with nature, because out of that communion arises religion. Science is an intellectual effort to understand nature, art is an emotional effort to understand nature, and religion is an existential effort to COMMUNE with nature. Art is higher than science, religion is higher than art. Science has to be objective; if science is subjective it will be just fiction — science fiction. Art has also to be objective; otherwise it will be fiction. And that’s what modern art is — fiction. And religion has also to be objective, really authentic; otherwise it is speculation, philosophy.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 9
Chapter title: Freedom is something inner
14 February 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Art, creativity, love, communion, nature’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Divine Melody
- The Golden Future
- The Razor’s Edge
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 3
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind
- The Osho Upanishad
- The New Dawn
- The Messiah
- Sermons in Stones
- The Tantra Vision, Vol 2
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- Tao: The Pathless Path