In order to understand creative activity in art, it is necessary to clarify the requisites for artistic creation. In creation, there are certain requisites for the subject (artist) as well as requisites for the object (work of art). Also, one’s techniques, materials, and styles of creation are important requisites in creation. Each of these points will be discussed below.
A. Requisites for the Subject in Artistic Creation
Requisites for the subject in artistic creation refer to motif, theme, conception, object consciousness, individuality, and so on.
Motif, Theme, and Conception
In creating a work of art, there must first be a motif, a motivation for creation, and based on that motif, a purpose for creating a specific work is established. Next, the theme and the conception are established. The theme refers to the central content to be developed in the work, and the conception is the concrete plan for the content and form of an artwork that is to be created based on the theme.
For example, suppose a painter, upon seeing an autumn landscape, is moved emotionally by its beauty and decides to paint it. The emotion thus aroused becomes the motif, and the purpose is set up of creating a painting of an autumn scene. Based on that purpose, a theme is established. If, for instance, there are especially strong feelings evoked by maple trees, the artist may decide to express the motif centering on maple trees, and a theme such as “Maple Trees in Autumn” may be decided. Once a theme is decided, the artist forms a concrete conception of how mountains, trees, rivers, sky, clouds, etc. will be arranged, what colors will be used, and so on.
The creation of the universe by God can be described in a similar way. First of all, a motif served as the motivation for creation. This motif had to do with His Heart, namely, His emotional impulse to “be joyful through love.” Next, God established the purpose of creation, that is, the purpose of creating object partners of love resembling Him. Based on that purpose, the theme was determined: the human beings, “Adam and Eve.” Then, a concrete conception of human beings and all things, namely, Logos, was established. That is how we can explain the creation of the universe by God.
In God’s creative act, His Inner Sungsang (intellect, emotion, and will) and Inner Hyungsang (ideas, concepts, laws, and mathematical principles) within God’s Sungsang, engaged in give and receive action, centering on Heart (purpose), and the conception (Logos) was formed. The formation of this four position foundation can be applied directly to artistic creation. To explain, an artist establishes a theme, centering on a motif (purpose), and makes a conception through give and receive action between inner Sungsang and inner Hyungsang in the direction of actualizing the theme. This corresponds to the formation of the inner four position foundation in the process of creation by God (see fig. 7.1).
Let us consider the example of The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin (1840- 1917), which is the statue of a poet sitting in the center of the upper level of the Gate of Hell, and was conceptualized on the basis of the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, “Hell.” The statue portrays a poet engaged in meditation while watching the people in hell, who are groaning in fear, anxiety, and pain. Rodin’s motif in creating The Thinker may have been the deep emotion he felt upon reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, realizing that everyone must live a life of goodness in order to avoid suffering in hell. His theme was The Thinker, and the figure of a man sitting, engaged in meditation, was his conception.
There is another well-known statue whose theme is the same as with Rodin’s work: the statue of the thinking Maitreya-Bodhisattva from the Shilla dynasty in Korea. However, it is quite different from Rodin’s work. The statue of the thinking Maitreya-Bodhisattva has as its motif the heart of the people waiting for the Maitreya, who was said to have been the most excellent disciple of Buddha and is to come again in order to save all humankind. The statue has a smile filled with self-confidence in his ability to save humankind. Rodin’s statue displays a strong intellectual aspect, whereas the statue of Maitreya is centered on purified emotions, and, as a result, manifests itself as a very noble and holy statue. The difference between these statues, which have the same theme, derives from differences in motif and conception.
Creation is an activity whereby an artist, in the position of object, gives joy to the subject, namely, God and the whole (humankind, nation, tribe, etc.), by manifesting the value of beauty. To do so appropriately, the artist must first establish a sense of object consciousness. The attitude of wanting to give joy to God, the highest subject, and to manifest the glory of God, is the culmination of object consciousness. The content of such object consciousness will now be addressed.
First, an artist should have the attitude of wanting to comfort God, who has been grieving with sorrow throughout human history. God created human beings and the universe to obtain joy, and even endowed human beings with creativity. Therefore, the original purpose of human life was, above all, to give joy to God. Accordingly, all human creative activity should first be carried out in order to please God. However, human beings separated themselves from God and lost the consciousness of wanting to give joy to God. That has been the sorrow of God, even until now. Therefore, an artist should, above all, seek to comfort God for His historical sorrow.
Second, an artist should have the attitude of wanting to comfort the many sages and righteous people, especially Jesus, who walked the path of restoration with God. To comfort them leads to giving God comfort, who shared pain and sorrow with them.
Third, an artist should have the attitude of wanting to express the deeds of the good and righteous people of the past and present. That is, the artist should have the attitude of cooperating with God’s providence by portraying the deeds of those people who were, and still are, persecuted by the people in the sinful world.
Fourth, an artist should herald the coming of the ideal world. Therefore, an artist should create works of art which express hope for and confidence about the future. Through such works, God’s glory can be manifested.
Fifth, an artist should have the attitude of wanting to praise God, the Creator, by expressing the beauty and mystery of nature. God created nature for humankind’s joy. Due to the fall, however, people came to obtain less joy from the beauty of nature. Therefore, while having a feeling of awe toward nature, which is the manifestation of God’s attributes, the artist should discover the profound and mysterious beauty of nature, praise the mystery of God’s creation, and give joy to others.
Artists who have such an object consciousness and invest all their energy into their creative work, can receive blessings from God and assistance from the spirit world. This is the way in which truly great works of art can be produced. Such works may be considered to be the fruit of a co-creative effort between God and the artist.
Among the artists of the Renaissance period there were many who created their works of art with just such an object consciousness as this. For example, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Raffaello (1483-1520) and Michelangelo (1475-1564) were such artists. Beethoven (1770-1827), who perfected classical music, composed music with such an object consciousness. This is why the works of these artists have become immortal masterpieces.
Each person is a being with individuality, created in resemblance to one of the Individual Images in God. Accordingly, in artistic creation, the artist’s individuality is expressed in a work of art because artistic creation is an expression of the artist’s individuality, which is an individual image of divine origin. The artist gives joy to God and to others by manifesting his or her individuality. Actually, in great masterpieces the individuality of the artist is fully manifested. This is why the artist’s name is usually attached to the work of art (e.g., Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony).
B. Requisites for the Object in Artistic Creation
The work of art, as an object of artistic creation, should reflect the artist’s Sungsang conditions, such as motif (purpose), theme, and conception (plan). For that purpose, the artist must use materials that are most appropriate to manifest these Sungsang conditions. Moreover, those physical elements (components) themselves should be arranged in such a way that they express complete harmony. These are the Hyungsang conditions.
As previously mentioned, many artists and aestheticians say that the physical elements (components) should be harmonized well in an artwork. Harmony of the physical elements refers to such things as the rhythm of lines, the harmony of shapes, of spaces, of light and shade, of color, of tone, of massing in painting, of the segments in a line, of movement in dancing, and so on.
As for the harmony of the segments in a line, consider the so-called “golden section,” which has been known since ancient times. The golden section is achieved by cutting a line in such a way that the ratio of the shorter segment to the longer segment is equal to the ratio of the longer segment to the total length of the line. This is achieved by dividing the total segment in proportions of approximately 5 to 8. When this proportion is employed, the end result is felt as stable in shape and beauty. In a painting, for example, if the relationship between the space above and that below the horizon or the relationship between the foreground and the background is made according to this proportion, harmony can be obtained. This golden section has also been applied to the pyramids and to Gothic cathedrals.