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I do not believe that art is meaningful only when it is great. This is in any case one of the reasons why I enjoy some small and not particularly important museums, which are not known for their masterpieces but for some less significant paintings that a collector collected with love and care.

Today, however, we are living at exactly the opposite end of the stick, where the artistic value of a work of art is of absolutely no importance but where the mere fact that the work exists and is on display is enough. How else can I explain the host of festivals all over Greece, or the foundations of all kinds which spring up like mushrooms, all involved willy-nilly in ‘art and culture’ projects, through almost identical programmes, boring even to read.

A pot-pourri of a few nebulous and vague art exhibitions, always a good helping of photography (so ‘easy’ and chameleon), chamber music mixed up with ‘artistic’ music, several talks, raw dance groups with emphasis placed on quantity alone, and almost never or very occasionally on quality. After all, quality is both rare and expensive.

So, all this versatility, the variety, the babbling programmes, ambitious with regard to the number of events rather than their content, diffuse a sense of artistic lifestyle, social status and boredom, starting from the organizers and ending at the spectators. Indeed, I feel that the latter must often silently wonder why, using their social upgrading as the only lame excuse, they must renounce a materialistic and popular delight such as eating, dancing, or simply socializing, activities that are in no way spiritually inferior in comparison to the level of the aforementioned so-called artistic ones.

In a few simple words. Most of the programmes available to the public are in no position to educate and to sensitize its ignorant members, and even less to move the already sensitized and trained ones. It satisfies (and obviously I am not referring to the few important qualitative exceptions) primarily the culture columns in the newspapers, the vanity or the interests of the organizers and the complexes of the spectators. It is perhaps the excess pepper sprinkled on the cabbage by a society that believes more in the spices and less in the substance of the dishes, or the expression of the hope that a little (more) art a day can send the doctor even farther away.

But how is this pessimistic and very tough view of mine compatible with my original proposition that I love lesser-known works of art?

I think this has to do with the nature of our era and the dominant attitudes. In other, earlier times, the artist, the craftsman, put into his work – important or trivial – the same love, the same respect, the same knowledge and the same effort to transcend, virtues he linked to himself as well as to the work of art. Even when he had no talent, he had vision. Creation was to him not the means of producing masterpieces but rather the ritual of producing them. Today, only the talented artist is in a position to shift the heavy veil of commercial and social exploitation that covers art, without feeling threatened by the current that wants art more of an event than creation. But this ingenious artist too needs the special spectator.

However, just as many churches and continuous liturgies do not multiply either saints or believers, so the plethora of artistic events does not promote the quality of production, or the honesty of enjoyment. Art (like faith) requires either wisdom or purity, on behalf of both the artist and the recipient. However, wisdom was, and is even more so today, blatantly insufficient. And purity has long ceased to be a virtue.