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Islamic aesthetics - Essay Example

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Erzen, in the article “Islamic Aesthetics: An Alternative Way to Knowledge”, explains how aesthetics in Islamic art is considerably different from the Western art in the effort to refute the allegation that modern art works in the Islamic culture are mere decorative works…
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Islamic aesthetics
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Download file to see previous pages As art is meant to be within the limits set by traditional norms, there is very little room for being radical. As a result, artists rarely tried to produce something totally new and original. Instead, they continued relying heavily on their culture, and art mainly involved interpreting and commenting on each other’s work. Thus, until very recently, critical discourse on art in the Islamic world was not explicit as is the case with the Western art. Instead, the criticism lied within the art work. In other words, “one thinks or comments about an artwork through another art work” (Erzen 69). The reason, according to Erzen, is that in cultures where tradition is dominating, artists fail to introduce new and radical innovations. Instead, they continue interpreting the same norms and knowledge of tradition in different ways through their art. The underlying claim is that one can see the expression of Islamic culture and tradition in Islamic art and that they are not mere decorative pieces.
In fact, as a result of this heavy dependence on tradition, the Islamic world failed to analyze its own arts and aesthetic approaches, and even when tried, the studies were descriptive, not analytical or conceptual. In order to support this claim, the scholar points out the fact that until early twentieth century, there was no effort to document Turkish architecture and its history. Though the Orientalists tried to understand the cultural meaning of Islamic aesthetics and art, the effort was in vain, as they tried to interpret the same using Western values and concepts. Most of the time, the efforts involved comparing Islamic art with Western art for similarities and dissimilarities and analyzing the narrative or figurative content. Thus, they failed to analyze or understand the cultural meaning of Islamic art and ended up focusing entirely on history, style and technique.
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