Book Club #01 : Art by Yasmina Reza

Reading is something that I struggled with for a long time. Not because I couldn’t read, but rather because I didn’t enjoy it. Reading came later when I was a teenager. Before that, the only thing I could read without feeling bored were comics and graphics novels. Even then I would still be bored after some time. The weird thing is I wasn’t bored of reading, but rather of standing still. Unlike with music, which is timed, thanks to the tracklist, reading isendless – until you finished reading. Your timing is based on the number of pages and your reading speed. I am a slow reader. Sometimes, because I took a break in a book, I have to start over because I lost track of where I was. You are probably suggesting that I use a bookmark. Trust me, I have. Many times. It still didn’t help. So I started to read shorter books. Essays, short stories, poetry, short novels, plays. I got really into those and it helped me reading bigger, longer books at times.

But today’s book isn’t long at all. I was able to read it in two 45 minutes reading sessions, sitting up in bed at night before going to sleep. I am not consistent with that way of reading, but I try to. This book is called, as you read in the title of this post, Art. It is written by French author Yasmina Reza.

I picked it up at my local library while searching for something to read in the personal essays section. I probably didn’t pay attention to the fact that I was in a different section. The book isn’t a personal essay, but rather a play about three middle-aged friends who discuss the latest acquired piece of art by one of them. The piece itself is described as a white canvas of five foot by four with white diagonal scars. The painting is supposedly the work of Antrios. A renowned – fictional – contemporary painter.

White Square on White Background by Kazimir Malevitch

When reading that, I immediately thought of Kazimir Malevitch’s White Square on White Background – seen above. Which, when I first discovered it, made me think that it couldn’t be art. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t understand why it existed or how it came into existence. Today, I love it and am a firm defender of what some people would call isht. What I loved about Art is that it reminded me of a few friends who didn’t get that type of piece either. We’ve had several discussions as well during which I tried to understand why they didn’t get it. Their reasons were similar to mine. The difference was that I started to go deeper and try to fully understand why art has evolved in such away. Context. Context is key when it comes to art. I found that most of the time, people don’t want to hear about the context in which things are born. There is always a why before the how. Reza nailed that perfectly in her play.

Even though the main character of the play is Antrios’ painting, what Reza is talking about is friendship and how we should treat them. Friendships are, like a lot of relationships, work. You have to work to make them happen. You have to work to keep them alive after many years. You have to work to stay friends. If you don’t, you end up drifting apart.

Art is great play. If you care about friendships, you should read it. If you care about art, you should read it. Art is a play that will make laugh and think. It’ll put things back in perspective. It’ll help you understand why you have lost touch with certain friends. It will also show you that no matter what, art will always unite, divide and reunite people. Remember to love art because art is power.

Have a sound day.


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