Communion with Plato’s Aesthetics

The following has been taken from a letter to a friend. His words on beauty set in motion a deeper investigation into the essence of this mysterious human form. Fundamentally beauty underpins art, and the very being of the artist. Thus I spent a fair of time reading up on Plato’s Aesthetics where he explores what furthers enlightenment, and what obstructs it.

Perhaps you are right, when it comes to our backsides, it is a sense for symmetry that we look for. Whenever I think of symmetry, particularly in the shape of a sculpture, I think of Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. The twisting in the entire piece, with Daphne turning into a laurel tree, gives it so much more of a deeper texture. It’s a kind of story telling just through the physical form.

Slightly different, did you see this article on Lucien Freud’s denial of the authenticity of his own painting. I found the painting in question quite interesting, also in light of what we said so far about the backside. If indeed it is a self-portrait of Freud, his contorted figure is almost so terribly ugly (reminding me of a hunchback), and at the same time, the subtle glimpse of half of his face makes him human in an instant.

And of course Freud’s eagerness to possess ‘himself’ is an obvious give-away that he doesn’t want anyone else to see this part of him. Perhaps though, people would not see anyway what he clearly knows is there, within him.

{Response: I enjoyed reading about Lucien Freud’s attempts to remove his self portrait from public view. For me, the painting itself was refreshing as it is not an idealised image of a human body and instead captures vulnerability, imperfection, human form not in its prime, absence of vanity, truth. The pose/composition is more courageous than heroic ancient sculptures with their arse perfection.}

And this neatly leads to my next point on beauty. Of course I do know of my own beauty, and my photography – my nude self or any other subject – reminds me of this special lens I can see through every day. But I do put beauty very much into context, whether that is in a situation or with others, so it becomes eternally relative. To the majority I show different layers of my exterior beauty because I am aware of their limits to comprehend any of my internal beauty. And while the external goes with the fashions and trends of society, it seems internal beauty is much more solid, not everyone can see it in another person (well, and one does not allow everyone to see it which naturally influences the direction of a connection). Only when one is curious, one will discover beauty in everything.

There is always a danger to rationalise beauty down to the smallest particle, and then it practically disappears from sight. I guess that’s what I like so much about the photography reminding me, it reflects back to me both my exterior and internal beauty, it surprises me every day and it never goes away. Like looking in a mirror and seeing a different facet of yourself each time.

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