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Many people often claim that they cannot stand works of art that make them cry or feel sad. After all, let’s not forget that in Greece, when we suddenly heard a piece of classical music on the radio we immediately thought that someone important had died. Analogous was our reaction to folk songs, which brought to mind the horror of a coup d’état.

On the contrary, I would argue, with a touch of deliberate pedagogical exaggeration, that a work of art, especially when important and significant, cannot possibly cause sadness. Art creates only joy. Otherwise it is not art.

What people perceive as the content of art, and consequently assign as the cause of their sadness, is usually the subject. And the fact is that most times art deals with subjects considered sad, since these are the most interesting and play the most important role in our life. But it is not the role of the artist to ascertain and proclaim the tragic dimension of life, the inexplicable scandal of death or the disorder of the world. On the contrary, all these are the essential motive for him to try to convey their opposite, or what may lie behind them. For the artist a stalemate sombre reality is at the same time the ultimate artistic deadlock. Similarly, a rosy reality would deprive him of any reason for creation. The artist's belief that the tragic dimension of life has another side is what succours his work. A project that necessarily moves towards a positive outcome. Otherwise it would not be called creation but ruins. Even when an artist is dealing with a ruin, this is rendered as a monument.

The recipient of the work of art would have no reason to seek communication with a work that would destroy personal defences and highlight the impasses and miseries of life. It would definitely be better to resort to the fictive world of commercial entertainment that ensures for the brief interval of its consumption the illusion of happiness. But the viewer seeks the work of art because it is in a position to reveal the charm and the beauty concealed beneath the apparent disorder of the world. And to convince him that happiness needs misery and beauty needs ugliness.

But beyond the above, the joy evoked by a work of art is also related to the existence and the presence of the artist behind it. With the elation generated in the recipient’s soul because there is someone who is able to see and to render the world in this way.

As for the tears, which almost inevitably accompany communication with a significant work of art, these are nothing but tears of joy, of true emotion and gratitude. After all, what other way do we people have to express our emotions in a deep and meaningful way, both mentally and physically, apart from tears?

Death in art is always a hymn to life, and the misery of love in art does nothing but indicate the value this has in our lives. Adagio in music does not suggest sadness, when presto appears to emphasize joy. It is their juxtaposition that evokes emotion. Black in painting is not the abyss of our life but the way for us to understand light.

The joy of art and creation has probably been defined better than anyone by one of the very greatest painters of the twentieth century, Francis Bacon, who was surprised when one critic described his works as mournful and harsh. “How is it possible”, he protested, “since I'm an optimist”. “And why are you optimistic? ” asked the puzzled interlocutor. And the great painter, who had suffered more than anyone in his life, disarmingly answered him with a big smile: “I’m profoundly optimistic about nothing”.