What is beauty and can it exist as an inner state regardless of outer conditions?

I have noticed a lot of interest in my re-creation of Waterhouse’s Boreas painting. That work, both the original and my version, seems to have an elusive quality that we could call beauty. But without the relative value judgement of the observer what can we point to and call beautiful? Some are enamored of the giant chrome plated balloon dogs of Jeff Koons. I find such overblown stuff, placed in the Palace at Versaille to give it a “touch of irony”, ludicrous to say the least. However, as the French say: “Chacun a son gout.” Each person defines beauty in their own way. I was recently told that one of my works in the Up Against the Wall series was quite beautiful by a prominent local artist. My Artist Ego got quite pumped at hearing this. “Wow” I thought, “That was a real compliment.” I received other kudos from patrons at the gallery where the work was on show, but no one bought the piece. I priced it quite low as a kind of experiment to see if it would sell. No dice. My AE (artist ego) at least had the balm of hearing the word beautiful at least once.

So what is beauty? A transpersonal psychologist who goes by the name of A. H. Almaas says that beauty is a substance or an essential quality that we can all experience within ourselves if we look deeply and let go of the chatter of thoughts and surface emotions. He claims that this essence is what truly illumines our world, and that without this subjective state we would not experience beauty outside of ourselves. Having spent many years in meditation practices, I have come to realize that there is some truth to this.

I feel that, as an artist, there seems to be a certain “something” that wants to express itself through my work….I suppose it could be called beauty, although that over-used word seems inadequate somehow.

I am enchanted by the female form in its many manifestations, old and young, large and small, “ugly” and “beautiful”. Human faces especially, are all fascinating and radiate a certain quality of beingness. So beauty could also be understood as an absolute quality, transcending the ordinary everyday definition. Can we ever really define it? Perhaps not. Can we feel it….I would answer with a resounding “Yay”. As Bob Dylan once wrote in the song Shelter from the Storm…..”Beauty walks a razors edge, someday I’ll make it mine”. Thanks for reading the ArtistEgo.