The Difference between Beauty and Art from the East to the West

Beauty and Art is a complex subject that’s culturally and existentially relative

A gifted artist between West and East may both extrude life’s beauty to us, but their life’s philosophy determines the style of their expression. A gifted Western artist wants to show us the beauty of this world through an ideal — a platonic space if you will. Western art is imagined to have capability to inspire individuals to pursue perfection: “A million sunsets will not spur on men towards civilization. It requires a perfect art-depiction of that sunset (a Platonic image) to evoke into consciousness the finite perfections which spurs human achievement. In Western Art, both science and art is believed to capture a manageable slice of the infinite richness of nature for us and let us glimpse a moment of perfection.

Just as exemplary individuals — Platonic person (e.g. Martin Luther King) can held out as role models that inspire us to greater civic and social achievement, so a civilization “infused with art” can reveal infinite or immortal possibilities to very finite humans, says the Western Styled Art. Great Western Art always points beyond itself to the source of its vision — of Platonic Origin (e.g. “Michelangelo’s perfect man statue). As viewers contemplate Western Art — if it’s good art — they should get a glimpse of something larger a more perfect than what we see around us.

The first thing you might notice about typical, Eastern Art is the presence of great amount of empty space. In contrast with Western Art, which often fills the canvas with color and excitement, Asian art uses emptiness as an ingredient signifying part of existence — an essential quality a person must understand in seeking the meaning of existence. Next comes human figures that compare to be smallest against the present of vast nature. Tao and Chinese art also explains that unless “we learn from ‘within’, we don’t begin to learn. As the painter Pan Tinshou once said “let your mind fill the voids, not your brushes.” Seeking inward to embrace the inherent emptiness of life and vastness of nature is essence Eastern Artists seek to convey.

Here is an example.

As an Eastern Icon in the Western world — Bruce Lee — once attempted with partial success — to show the West the “real Beauty” of Eastern art and its culture through Martial Arts, we all can see the richness that comes from the global community through cherishing our differences and diverse beauty. To achieve the above, however, Bruce Lee had to overcome initial hardship and discrimination and even died young in the process. But the cultural bridge he built during a time of racism and intolerance is long lasting and made Lee into a legend in both the East and the West.

But our history has not been so tolerant in showering us with these token fairy-tales of successful integration. Colonialism since the 17th century have showed us our stubborn and intolerant instinct when it comes to preserving the supremacy of our own values and beauty, as colonists used fences and signposts to mark off the natives as ugly and insignificant — perfectly suited for slave-labor. The interest of the colonialism period is that the oppressor manages to convince himself of the objective non-existence of the oppressed nation and its inherent beauty. Every effort is made to bring the colonized person to admit inferiority and wretched ugliness. And in the last extreme, the confused and conquered individual gives into an inferiority complex, throws himself in frenzied fashion into the frantic acquisition of the culture of the occupying power, and takes every opportunity of unfavorable criticizing of his own national culture. (The Bluest Eyes — Toni Morrison)

In this new Era of Globalization and postmodernism, the same critical question exists today as it did 200 years ago during the Age of Colonialism in Africa. To the massive, white convoy going through a colonized country, an African man asks confusingly: “why do you white men own so much cargo [in your art]?” During this age of global-warming, overpopulation, and resource depletion, why do people still own so much “cargo?”


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