We all are familiar with terms like self expression, catharsis or inner exposure, art is supposed to give vent to all the feelings, emotions, sensations, thoughts, ideas or thesis, we revolve around or try to do so, either they are religious, philosophical, psychological, ethical, romantic or sensual, we always want to share these emotions with others, so, created different ways of expression that mostly come under the comprehensive meanings of art. Right from the stone age or even before it, expression on solid rocks in the form of symbols, shapes and lines could be seen and understand even today with the full zeal and zest, that was present in the ancient human being at the time of creating those early sketches, in a very true, direct and enthusiastic way, that is still the source of finding the foot steps of early human civilization to enhance the modern one.
Art goes through different passions. When Classicism determined the hard and fast rules for any literary or artwork, all art that was art, was of divine origin it was the "witness of the glory of God". As a reaction, Romanticism sprouted out as a fresh wave of pure inner and individual point of view, then Expressionism, Impressionism and Realism added or tried to add some weight in the idea of "Expression" according to the desire and demand of an individual as well as the society. This force of let others know what we feel & how other should feel in a particular subject, drove Art into the geometrical thinking of Cubism and later on by breaking its edges adopted abstraction, not only just in subjects but also in shapes and colors. Dadaism also played its role up to some extent but it was just a quick baseless rejection of everything, without having any solid grounds for Judgment or criticism.
But if we look at art as a serious tool or way of real expression of soul then we will have to agree with Croc'ce, an Italian "Intellectual of Aesthetics". He said, "Art is nothing else than mere expression of perception." According to him a piece of art, even before created on canvass, is actually got shape in the artist's mind.
Knowledge is either imparted through intellect or images, and images do influence intellect or intellect has to carry itself through images. A complete expression is a blend of soul and perception through images.
Art conveys aesthetic perception of an artist to others, it can carry and convey sound, moments, contours, colors and words and make an artist's expression, a complete impression.
This is 21st century, the age of IT, where, not only colors, contours and shapes are enough, but also something more has made the viewer to chose and select by choice. The term "Multimedia" has broaden the vast of art to sounds, movements, changing colors and shades, and so the ideas, views and modes. No one has got ample time to ponder over, either it's the artist or the viewer, even the art itself running short of time to penetrate. Artist wants to produce masterpieces overnight, viewer is keen to have countless unique interests under his belt, so the art itself has lost its shelf life, paintings are hanged, sculptures are exhibited and then after few days everything is packed for good.
We, then refer to the photographs, journals, catalogues and websites, as there is no time to wander around in the galleries and try to absorb art from its own original flare or freshness. Now the most popular idea behind any art is "the artist's job is only to show". But even modern attitude will find it difficult to show creativity without imagination, so, without imagination, the best of art, might get the status of just a shadow or imitation. The quantitative aspect is over whelming the qualitative aspect.
New age is fast, and furious too. Now specific fields are not just bound to certain people, it's not the time when art is just confined to elites only. Today the idea of "everything for everyone" has brought about the change in art lover lobbies. Now there is another bunch of art lovers or if I could say them art critics who have nothing to do with the philosophies of subjects or the subtleties of technique, but they have every interest with the so called criticism on art as they have the opportunity to look at the art pieces by virtue of their contacts or habit of having a look at everything. That's why globally, very few real and true art critics are seen, while in our country, we have to be satisfied whatever is available in this regard as there is not much published and discussed on regular basis.
Once some body said, "the test of utmost fine-ness in execution in these arts is that they make themselves be forgotten in what they represent". This is the most ideal form for an artist and the viewer to be drowned in the magic of an art piece, but we all know, no body has got so much time in this crazy world now a day for such a practice. That's why we always take and give a bird's eye view; even the artist himself wants the economy of thoughts and ideas along with paints and strokes in his masterpiece.
No time for realism or super realism to present objects as the are in real life, camera is a better option for such practice, but the thing is, it does matter a lot that how much artist's interest and soul is reflected even in those simple and few strokes and straight forward ideas. The main feature of art is to convey the original message of artist's mind to the viewer. I.A. Richards, a European critic has the belief that any art or literature is created due to an active chain of interests in the creator's mind, and these very interests got activated in the mind of reader or viewer, when conveyed to him. So, art is always to carry something to others from its creator, and if it lacks in it, the art is not of great par.
There has always been a disbelief in ordinary minds that why we need such an intricate source to express even simple thoughts or emotions? Thoughts and emotions are never simple enough to be expressed through language only, actually our emotions are symbolic representation of our nature and attitude, and these very things are not as simple as one can guess, it is a chain of continuously changing phenomenon that affects our personality so much that we need to take something out of us. So the art, being the way of expression, is not simple to understand at all. One needs to take it at two different levels of understanding, one is emotional or imaginative and the other is intellectual level, but both are interlinked in comprehending an art piece as the skill and talent are, in the case of creating one. And this is not a "pseudo statement" at all.
So the imagination on which the art is based is the soil where it got its roots, therefore all the "Isms" were and are action or reaction of changing human mind collectively, which, afterwards change the society as well in a positive manner with reference of subjective atmosphere.
I conclude with a line of Shelley, he said, "Imagination is the organ of moral nature of man." So we can say that the art, as being based upon that very Imagination can and do determine the moral values in human minds and society as well.