In his novella Der Tod in Venedig, Thomas Mann gives his own personal interpretation of the Platonic dialogue in which Socrates speaks to Phaedrus about beauty: «For beauty alone, my dear Phaedrus, is lovable and visible at the same time. Bear this in mind: beauty is the only form of the sublime that we can both perceive and endure with our senses.»
Mario Cravo Neto (2002):
Everything that breathes is my idea of beauty.
As a smoker I look at my kids breathing and I am aware of the fact that we are killing ourselves. For many years I have been photographing my children. I’ve seen them growing up, breathing – but I am still smoking. I guess we like a little bit of suicide. I can’t describe an ideal of beauty on a material or concrete basis. Its breathing; it comes from loving a human being.
(La Mirada – Looking at Photography in Latin America Today, Edition Oehrli, 2002, p.75-76)
Doris Salcedo (2004):
In my work I manage to approach the lack of beauty and show its absence. That is probably the nearest I get to beauty. As to what I like, I find beauty in silence, in minimalism, but it is not something I can do in my work. I feel a responsibility towards reality. If I had not been born here, I would have liked to have been an abstract artist. Here, I feel a responsibility which leads me to look for other sorts of images. It is hard for me to define beauty because what I find most beautiful is what moves me most, and ultimately what moves me also hurts me. Beauty is intimately bound up with pain. Hölderlin has an extraordinary phrase that is pertinent: “He who felt most profoundly was also he who thought most profoundly.” Beauty is what moves me.
(Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2004, p.168-170)
Rosemberg Sandoval (2004):
HMH: What notion of beauty do you work with?
RS: The purging of the inhuman.
HMH: The human in an inhuman world.
RS: Yes, because one functions in a specific situation, articulating politics and aesthetics. In a cruel society like ours, what I try to do is re-destroy by illuminating.
(Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2004, p.228)
Cildo Meireles (2006):
Maybe the path is more closely linked to the question of truth than of beauty. What I find interesting in the art object is when it hi-jacks the viewer, at a certain place and at a certain moment. Even if its only for a glance, it is you and the object, and you leave that place, that moment, and you have a unique experience, as brief as it may be. Its not ecstasy, but its something that profoundly alters your normal relation within that space, that street, that city, that country, you see? Its when the object makes the subjects forget themselves. For me, this is very close to what beauty is in art. You can generalise on this, a great goal or soccer game can be beauty. A painting as well, or a song.
(Cildo Meireles, Seduções, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2006, p. 88-89)
Oscar Muñoz (2004):
The theme of beauty has been dealt with in the myth of Narcissus. Its a persistent search, a passion for the ideal, for an ideal form. But the myth of Narcissus is also related to frustration, like that of Sisyphus. It is tied to impossibility. It is something that is argued not as a concept of beauty in the sense of perfection or a paradise of kindness and harmony. I think that beauty might be in the poetic form of a work.
(Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2004, p. 24)
Maria Fernanda Cardoso (2004):
Beauty is a strategy like any other; its very powerful. I have studied for a long time the reasons why we love beauty and why it is important. There are evolutionary reasons, it has to do with survival, and it has to do with life. The best gene gets chosen, thats the one that gets noticed and passes itself onto the next generations. There are relationships of beauty in synchrony with the order of the universe, because everything is part of a system of order. We perceive all of this as beauty. We humans call it beauty but there are biological, physical and chemical forces that create the same patterns. Beauty is just a name, but in reality it has to do with ways of being, of living, of being part of a system that goes from the microscopic to the macroscopic.
I love beauty; I adore using beauty in my work because for artists of my generation its a total and absolute taboo. In the past, it was easier and more acceptable for me to work with something ugly and turn it into something beautiful than to start with something that is already beautiful and transform it into something even more beautiful. Its a challenge.
(Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2004, p.269)
Fernando Arias (2004):
I am happy everyday seeing plants grow. If there is a flower, I look at it everyday to see how it opens – to me this is beauty. But its also beautiful to imagine a molecule or a cell, a living particle that I can’t see but that is inside my body. This is my concept of beauty, we either see it or we don’t, this is beauty. Beauty is love; beauty is so great… I think that death itself is beauty.
(Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2004, p.86)
Antonio Dias (2009):
AD: I am very fond of beauty. I think it has the ability to enrapture, to transform you. The other day I was gazing at the face of a teenager at a bus stop and the girl had such a beautiful face. Overall, she wasn’t even pretty, but her face exuded a kind of grace. I thought about painters in the past – they must have had these visions and thought: “I shall capture this. “But also when I saw a Pakistani statue of Buddha fasting I thought that the person who made that also created a work of great beauty.
HMH: So beauty is a spiritual thing that has a great deal to do with poetics.
AD: Absolutely. I have never really felt terribly conceptual because I don’t want to reject that poetic moment in a work. That would be impossible for me. The fact that I am an artist is a construction I make for myself, in order to be able to exist as a person, as an autonomous being. I am truly obsessed by autonomy, by freedom. Not that I am totally autonomous, but I find all forms of autonomy to be extremely interesting. Actually, what interests me is always quite far from art theory.
(Antonio Dias, Anywhere is my land, Daros-Latinamerica / Hatje Cantz, 2009, p.163)