“We possess art lest we perish of the truth,” said Friedrich Nietzsche, arguing that “Honesty would lead to nausea and suicide.” But is art simply Nietzsche’s “good will to appearance”?
It may be that the human soul may never live up to the demands of virtue or honesty but I cannot run with Nietzche to find art an escape where we become content with appearance or an illusion. In reality, there may be more than we can see or even understand.
I feel an intense satisfaction with the process of creating. Taking a few insignificant piles of pigments mixed with an oil base, swirling them around, engaging the mind, the eye, with the physical stokes of a brush to form something from nothing is immensely satisfying. To define this process as nothing more than the final product of an illusion misses the part of the human soul that is nourished with the act of creating. Something about the human longs to create. In painting I feed that craving. It is an expression of the truth that the human soul is tied to a creative force. It is a similar force that extends beyond the acquisition of knowledge to the application of knowledge and truth. Yes, honesty may at times lead to nausea and despair, but it may also lead to joy, satisfaction and hope. Past the illusion of commercial happiness and joy, or even the reality of despair, history points to the truth of an eternal Creator who gives hope and life.