From the words of Ernst Fischer, “In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.” I took time to ponder on its meaning. However, as I think deeper and deeper, it gets all the more confusing and hard to fathom.
What I got from this though is that art has two functions, it can be a reflection of what is the current state of society or it may be an agent of change.
Let me explain further.
First, art as a reflection of the current state of society. A normal person goes through life with their routinary tasks. An artist on the other hand reflects. They see things differently. They perceive things on a different plane. They could see beauty in the most obscure and unexpected. They see different in what’s usual and routine. They perceive something extravagant in the simple and plain. The point is that the artist has the ability to depict the society he is in with much exaggeration and clarity. It is no vivid that no one can deny that such a thing exists. It is so imaginable that it is unimaginable that it is really there. I admire the work of a local artist. He was very much condemned to a point that even the priests condemned him saying he was of the devil but I think it was just totally misunderstood. Yes, I was offended by his works at first but to look at it at a different perspective helped me see what is really going on. It was graphically represented to be a worship of things, of many gods. From then, I highly respect his work which caused a stir because it is what’s happening which reminds me of this quote by Suzi Gablik, artist, art critic and historian, "For art to be relevant, artists must address the social and spiritual issues of our time. Our own cultural system is so pervasive that we tend to mistake its attitudes, practices and beliefs as a fact of life, the way things necessarily are.”
This brings me to my second point, art as an agent of change. Art is so expressive that one is able to shift things to a different point of view. If things of the present are presented in an artwork that would somehow lift the morale of society, I think it would inspire people to achieve such aspiration. An artist is somehow able to transcend into his artwork what his aspirations, goals and dreams are. It is also a way of being able to remind one of the power of imagination and dreaming. I think the way that we are asked to draw who we want to be in the future when we were much younger was beautifully planned to help us see that. If we apply that to our now, then it helps us to work on that goal, to change our current state and be better people.
I think Ernst Fischer is helping us see that art do not just visually please people by the beautiful pieces that are created by skillful hands and creative minds. It is also to help us think and ponder and understand what we need to do in order to be better.