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The transformative power of Pain in Art

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


Is pain an indispensable element for artistic creation? I am curious to know what you think.


I think very often, or perhaps nearly always, it is a source of artistic creation, but I don't think it is indispensable for artistic creation.


It seems the right hemisphere (that is the more creative side) of the brain is prone to sadness and restlessness. Maybe that’s why artists are so often dissatisfied and driven to continue creating. The process of creation can be joyful indeed but it is often born out of a relentless driven-ness: it HAS to be!


Passion. Art is staid without passion. Does passion always involve pain? Hm. It probably does to some degree yeah, even if it's dwelling in the shadows cast by the passion. If I have to consider only one answer to this question, surely my answer is no.


You can't remove pain from life. Creativity is life. So pain will be one of the elements involved in the creative process either by inspiration or the process itself.


Interesting discussion, thank you Loredana for asking the question! My first thought is that the suffering/struggling/conflicted Artist is a Romantic ideal, and seemingly one that still fits our imaginations. My second thought is about musicians whose music was intense and compelling while they were using (whatever they were using) but lost that edge when they were clean. I do prefer them clean for their own sake, but I'll reach for the older songs. Third thought - I recall the discussions we had a while back about the role of the Muse - the unattainable object, a pain, sure, but a special delicious pain, and the Muse apart from being flesh and blood, is also a symbol for: The actual work of creation: the artist must struggle with material - matter or language or both - the convention, the structure - move those stones to make that arch. That is not always easy work, but not all of life's struggles are painful either. And perfection is not possible.In an absolute sense, pain is not indispensable for artistic creation, but I think it is difficult to respond reasonably if we do not specify which pain we are talking about.


I guess it depends on what is meant by “pain” - I’d rather talk about “intensity” in terms of art - I’d definitely say that is a necessary ingredient
Pain, rain, laughter, sunshine


It’s a wonderful motivator


What sort of art creation? If you mean acting or theatre obviously indispensable for reproduction.


Pain allows inner creativity. Pleasure allows outer creativity.
Pain is an indispensable element of life. So, yes. Like air and food, there would be no art without them. But seeing as some creations are an expression of joy, and others pain, it is not essential to suffer overly in order to create. Creativity is what happens when the person's inner life finds external expression in a medium which can be observed by others. To an extent identifying "art" as separate from any other externalisation is a falsehood, it is simply a more concrete or more deliberately distributed form of normal communication. I here writing these words, which are my creation right now.


Pain is an unavoidable consequence of creating . The simple act of imagining doing something Creative involves pain . Any time we decide to make something out of something imagined there’s pain .
.... and more


Pain and artistic creation_ loredana denicola blog
Pain and artistic creation_ loredana denicola blog

So the my question is - Is pain an indispensable element for artistic creation?


If we have to consider only one answer to this question, surely the answer is no. In an absolute sense, pain is not indispensable for artistic creation, but I think it is difficult to respond reasonably if we do not specify which pain we are talking about. Meanwhile, pain is a variable emotion as well as variable is the sensitivity of each of us. There are events that in some people cause a lot of pain and in others less.


Pain, like all other emotions, can be one of the possible motivations for artistic creation.To create, any artist has to control its internal pain, like all other emotions.


But what does it mean to control emotions?


To some extent, in order to create, one must dominate one's internal chaos: if one does not dominate, one does not create.

Inside the internal chaos there is also pain: for example in the case of Louise Bourgeois a strong motivation in her work is the irremediable and painful separation between the self and the other, (mother, father, France etc. ). Despite this, there is a need to live the problematic experience with others: pain cannot be devastating for art to give it meaning.


“I was with my father and it was impossible to convince him.

If I speak to you and you do not listen to me, I cannot convince you: you assume a superior attitude, and with this you suggest that I am nobody.

I accept defeat and abandon you, and then I will look for something that I can have an effect on. Art has become that possibility for me.”


In order to produce, I must not allow myself to be destroyed by pain. I take advantage of this pain and turn it into a force for artistic creation.

The theme art - life - life - art is clearly revealed: "artists" must have a strong belief in making art, because if life wins with its deep and lacerating emotions, including pain, for the artist it comes creative death, and not infrequently also physical death.


To create, art must overcome life.


Louise Bourgeois still says it - "art kidnaps life" and any artist has to endure this, he has to accept that for better or for worse his\her life is seized by art.

If he/she can control it, then can have a satisfying relationship with pain, a relationship that can also give him/her pleasure, the pleasure of creating.

To get to the ‘pleasure of creating’, the artist is willing to do a lot, but to allow the metamorphosis to happen one must sing about pain, one cannot only be grieved, even if deeply grieved: one needs to know how to sing pain, and there are many ways to sing it.

To sing it, you need to deliver your pain to creativity, to be available to make this delivery).


And you? What do you think about it?



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