Art makes me feel
It’s always been my view that there is no good or bad art, it’s how it makes you feel. I will often judge a painting on the physical reaction I have to it. If there is an electric feeling down my arms, I’m appreciating the beauty. If I get a heaviness in my chest, I am seeing sadness in the work. If my head tips to right, there’s something that intrigues me.
Art makes me feel comfortable
A shared space where you can go to feel like you have something in common with others is important to the social needs of humans. For some this might be their place of work, their family home, their local cafe or sporting ground. I feel that sense of commonality in galleries no matter where I am around the world. A gallery is always my go to when I visit another city. Be it the Bendigo Regional Art Gallery or the Louvre. I’m not leaving a city without seeing some art. I get to learn something new, see something beautiful and feel like I belong.
Art makes me feel less pain
I remember one distinct occasion, standing outside the entrance to the exhibition of Hokusai woodcut prints, my back hurting and my head pounding with the remnants of a migraine. My companion asked me if I still wanted to go into the exhibition. I turned to them and said ‘I’ll be fine. Art is restorative.’ And it did. Interestingly, the prints which most captured my attention were a series of waterfalls and according to Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, even images of waterfalls are spiritual. The beauty and calmness of the woodprints were more effective than the pharmacy of pain killers I carried in my handbag. It wasn’t a permanent fix, but that hour I spent wandering around the low lighted, blue-tinted gallery space, my body felt renewed.
Art makes me feel resilient
Beautiful art in galleries does not always hold a cure. There are times when the slow crawl around an exhibition space compresses my lower back to the point where it feels like it is on fire. I was at a Yayoi Kusama exhibition once when my back started to throb. The bright reds and yellows of Kusama’s wobbly paintings weren’t quite the salve I was hoping. The pain started to build but I wanted to see inside the mirrored infinity rooms and place my stickers in the obsession space. I took a break in front of a wall of colourful paintings. I sat and examined it for a while until the pain subsided a bit. And then I went on.
Art makes me feel happy
I’d had a bad week and I felt like the world was against me. I was standing in the middle of an exhibition, surrounded by large screens showing David Hockney’s ipad drawings. The drawings were illuminated from behind with a glow of bright, white light. The drawing in front of me was of flowers with simple lines in purples, blues and greens. I stood there completely transfixed. I felt like I couldn’t move away. The light washing through me and it felt peaceful. The painting was bright and joyful. It made me feel bright and joyful and my entire mood improved.
Art makes me feel calm
I have never felt more at peace than when I visited Naoshima – the ‘art’ island – in Japan. It’s a small island of less than 15 square kilometres. It has numerous sculptures set into the landscape, a village of art installations and three art museums. While the water view was undeniably lovely, it was the combination of sleeping in a Tadao Ando designed building with a giant Yayoi Kusama pumpkin out the window and an art museum only a short stroll up the hill. I remember walking up the hill to the minimalist Lee Ufan museum and being struck by the greatest sense of calm. I was surrounded by the sea, minimalist buildings and beautiful art and it was all I needed in that moment.
Art makes me feel like I’m home
There’s little I enjoy more than walking into a gallery, be it something new and unexplored or familiar and comfortable. That feeling is always the same. It’s the quietness and stillness that exists in any gallery space. It’s the air of expectation of the art I’m about to experience. It’s a soothing feeling. It’s a feeling like I’m returning home.