For the sake of clarity the meaning of a few important terms has to be spelled out, the writer’s personal ideas are as follows :
What we are normally calling with the term ”ART” refers to multiple and undefinable forms of human creativity, whereby outstanding or exceptional dexterity and skill are displayed.
Such creativity is totally free in many cases.
But in many other cases such creativity is tightly connected to practical reasons (ritual or protocol related activities among many others or simply economic needs) which leave almost no space for its free expression.
Whatever the case may be, this creativity is not necessarily rational nor always bound to the acceptance of tight conditions or rules (like the acceptance of dominating superstitions or the due formal tribute to an officially imposed style at that very time in that very place where the artistic activity is carried on), it can also be the expression of totally free spontaneity, subject to no paradigms or constraints, even to the point of transcending the acting subject beyond his intention and his capacity of will and comprehension.
Therefore from totally different and opposite geneseses can originate forms of creative expressions perfect within themselves, showing relevant intrinsic ”artistic” values (i.e. able to transmit highly emotional or spiritual or aesthetical messages), and as such perceived sometimes by the widest majority (if not by all) of the ”receivers/consumers”, whilst in other cases only a limited number of persons receive the ”artistic” message as such.
As a consequence of the above it happens that what is perceived as a relevant ”artistic expression” (i.e., as said already above, able to transmit highly emotional or spiritual or aesthetical messages) by many, can be regarded as meaningless or even as negative by many others.
The above implies that also to the term ART (same as for other noble and highly conceptual categories like Religion, Philosophy or Politics) it can be extend the concept of relativity and subjectivity.
Each and every form of ART can be considered as a different form of language (or metalanguage) which some or many (or maybe all in very few cases) do understand and do recognizably appreciate for its valuable intrinsic message, whilst others do remain alien to it.
In anycase the emblematic value and representativeness of an age and of a society or civilization remains thoroughly intact irrespective of the fact that such ”artistic expressions” be fully acknowledge by all or many or some, whilst others do in all good faith judge as ”non-artistic” at all such same facts.
The ancient civilizations (including Rome and, to a certain extent, also Greece) where lacking a clearly cut concept of ART, which to them was mostly no more than a daily routine work carried on by ”artisans” (term with the very same root as ”artist”), as honorable as any professional taylors or bakers or carpenters or plummers, even though showing outstanding or exceptional dexterity and skill.
Maybe that such underestimating judgement was less far from the right natural approach than the one of our modern times, when we do often unduly overestimate some ”artistic expressions” and put in the chair of gods persons who do not have the qualifications.
Oscar Wilde was saying that the ”ART” is not existing, as in fact everything can be referred to as ”ART”.
Such terms are sometimes treated as if they were ”bad”, not culturally correct, words : it’s impolite to refer such adjectives to anybody as they imply an inferiority (be it moral, spiritual, cultural, religious, technologic or else).
The fact is that from the height of our marble column we can look down and see how much more civilized and thus superior is our ”way of life”, which we conquered along the centuries and the millennia, whilst many of our cousins were left behind and couldn’t keep our pace.
Our rational consciousness is based on irrefutable facts and granitic certainties which altogether made our condition so strong, so superior and so far from the basic animal world around (and below) us.
Yes, we accomplished substantial achievements but we have to be humble enough as to recognize that ”our way” is not the only way in this universe and that our knowledge is far from being perfect and that, most important of all, our ties with the basic natural, animal world are still there, deep and strong, and they can come to the surface at anytime and show that our rational knowledge and rule of the world and of ourselves is just a superficial illusion which can reflect our ideal world as far as the waters are still and quiet, but as soon as some ripples show (not to talk about really rough waters….) then such image goes in pieces and the category of PRIMITIVE/TRIBAL comes out again.
Luckily, as said at the beginning, PRIMITIVE/TRIBAL are not bad words, PRIMITIVE/TRIBAL are the terms reminding us of the pristine, intimate, ancestral structure of our beings, when other types of knowledge were pursued, when our science and technology were non existant and when our philosophy and religion were intimately connected with the deep observation and respect of the basic natural facts and phenomena, and thus totally different from what we have proudly developed later on.
It’s a fact that our spiritual and emotional lifes were totally different at that time but not less rich and valuable than now as the daily struggle for survival and the consciousness of our weakness was maybe making us morally richer and certainly more humble.
No doubt the PRIMITIVE/TRIBAL culture is still conveying to us some valuable messages which would be of paramount importance for a better and richer development of our lifes, if we only could understand that language…..
PRIMITIVE ART/TRIBAL ART
After having read all the above, the combination of such terms is self-explanatory and as such really stimulating and intriguing for any soul who still cultivates an intelligent curiosity for the world around and inside us, longing for deeper and better understanding, thanks to fair and reasonable analysis and comparison of concepts, myths and ideas.
By virtue of our unabashed, careful observation of the present and past we shall be able to drag the energies we need to stretch our vision forward into the future.
And we will give up our childish research of ”gurus” of any type and nature, having finally achieved the consciousness that the only effective ”guru” can be found by digging deep into oneself, either alone or together with equal friends, with no fear for the risk of gaining a free mind.
It is no sin.