There is a reason why some people put so much effort in sad things when it comes to art. May it be art, music, theatre, literature, whatever. From a general standpoint, some of the most successful works of art are often connected to a sad event, thought or subject that the artist is recreating in their work. The same can also be said about comedians, who use their sadness and frustration as a source of creativity, leading them to portray those thoughts into jokes. It is no secret that art in all of its forms is perceived as one of the best – if not the best – way to channel one’s frustrations into something that is perceived as productive and positive according to the outside world. The reasons behind such behaviours and creativity are numerous and vary in accordance to the context and the endgame that the artist is envisioning. One thing is for sure, though: real artists do not produce art for money. It might be a collateral benefit if the end product is good, but no human person decides to develop their artistic skills because they want to make money.
For most art paintings and sculptures, the objective is more about portraying a certain event or person that, according to the artist, should not dive into oblivion, but instead be shared with the rest of the world. For the artist, what is portrayed is a memory of something so painful that they needed to share it with the rest of the world, across time and space. This is the case of French author Alfred de Musset when he wrote On ne badine pas avec l’amour (No Trifling with Love). In March 1834, Musset left Venice alone after the drama of the break-up with George Sand when she abandoned him and left with the doctor Pietro Pagello. The play focuses on the two former lovers’ story, which allowed Musset to provide himself with some form of therapy in order to move on from the breakup.
This is the beauty of art: there is always a story behind the story. Either the viewer creates their own story when they are exposed to art, or the artist’s story is projected, explained and shared for the world to see and hear and, most importantly, witness and feel. But then, why would someone want to share something so personal, painful, and sad with the rest of the world?
Just as I mentioned earlier, the entire concept of making the most of art helps people cope with their own frustrations and personal problems on both physical and mental scales. It is an escape away from the bars pressures of society that we seem to lock ourselves in over the course of our everyday lives. When someone feels misunderstood on all levels or is just unable to say what they are thinking of or feeling, it may sometimes feel like no one has ever gone through what they are feeling and they just need to let out, one way or another. The message is quite often a cry for help in the person’s own words; it has nothing to do with attention seeking, and everything to do with actual help and support.
Art is not an alternative to therapy, instead it is an alternative therapy. This would explain the huge expansion made in psychology over the last years, encouraging doctors to use different techniques in order to get to those who need help. Some people feel more comfortable at sharing their feelings by having a normal conversation with people; for others, it is through sharing songs that they listen a lot to recently with their doctors. Another group of people find their escape in reading, drawing, or even just writing about the various topics that go through their minds. One of the many beauties of art is that it is an amazing window to a person’s thought process. It has allowed us to create a new form of expression, whether we want to talk about something sad or something joyful. However, in some way, this is the same reason why it may just not be enough.
How many artists have used art as a way to make one last attempt to call out? From Avicii in his unreleased song Enough Is Enough in which he talks about how his last break up affected him to the point he almost could not face his thoughts, to Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings showing what it was like to live in his mind in the midst of poverty and misunderstanding, while passing by Robin Williams’ comedy and support for young adults to reach higher and be happy. Art can be a cry for help to both sides, the artists and the audience. For many people, art is a way of letting ourselves – and others – know that we are not alone. It is a way of communicating that there is nothing wrong or abnormal in the way we are feeling or thinking. It is a connection with millions of people across the globe and across time.
“A work of art is the trace of a magnificent struggle.”
– Grace Hartigan
I have come to realize that sad forms of art are actually as helpful and beneficial to the entire ecosystem as positive and motivating forms. The message and objective differs in certain forms in order to account for certain forms of human emotions that can be triggered by specific events. Sometimes, the combination of both happy and sad art can create a story of their own in order to show what life is like on both sides. By doing so, the artist is able to project hope and a more acute version of reality into the mix. For example, Sia tells her listeners to be The Greatest while showing them that Big Girls Cry. Zayde Wolf encourages us to go Rule The World whilst reminding us to hold on to people who teach us how to be Brave.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are not the only person to feel like this and that is okay.
You can always connect with others who will relate to what you are experiencing.
You can reach out by using art to express yourself.
Art is there so we can say what is going on without having to speak. Especially when things are just way too painful to say out loud.
Allow yourself and others to heal in a different way.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
– Pablo Picasso