Art, friends, new visions

Art and friendship get better when nurtured with newness

Mitchell Hébert and John Lescault / photo Scott Suchman

Last week, I attended a great theatre evening at a friend’s house, in French “théâtre d’appartement”. For one hour and a half, 30 guests sitting in a semi-circle around the living room, watched three Belgian and French actors who exquisitely performed the play Art by Yazmina Reza. We had drinks and a few nibbles before the play and after, when we had the chance to discuss with the actors. The evening was not only extremely enjoyable, but also particularly enriching because of the strong message on both friendship and contemporary art conveyed by the play.

Let’s start with the characters and plot, Serge, a lover of contemporary art, buys a large minimalist white painting at a very high price. Marc is appalled; “You paid 200 000 francs for this shit?” And all along the play, the relationship suffers because of one painting. Yvan, the mediator, tries to bring peace among his friends.

This play brings back in mind Nelson Goodman’s writings on art, more precisely the two first chapters of his book Of mind and other matters (Harvard U.P. Cambridge, 1984) where he mentions that art should bring forth to the viewer a new relationship to the World, just like science does, when a new causal link is being discovered. For example, the existence of the Higgs boson, confirmed a few months ago, is certainly changing the ways we comprehend the world. The same applies on our way out from a significant art exhibit. The world to which we go back is not the same as the one we left. We now perceive it in function of the art we have seen. We question more; we choose differently — unless we refuse to do so.

The same applies to the minimalist painting that Serge bought and Marc and Yvan saw. The art experience they lived changed their relationship forever. No doubt that the straightforwardness and candidness resulting from a frank dialogue about the painting (contemporary art) opened their eyes on a stale friendship. Newness might be an essential element for living uplifting experiences through art and friendships.

You may watch the play at the following link; and tell us what you think.

(in English)

(en français)

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