Art, music, literature, sport, and any other vivid representation of culture falls under the category of cultural expression.
As one of the loudest and most dynamic parts of culture, expression is the paint pallet that brings the picture to life.
Where would Mexican muralism be without “the big three” – David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, and José Clemente Orozco?
The Mexican Revolution spurred artworks with a political and social message. Beginning in the 1920s, the Mexican muralism movement lasted more than fifty years.
Artworks were often commissioned by the government, itself, and were mainly large and colorful storytelling pieces, celebrating Mexico’s rich history, coupled with the moral degradation of imperialism, dictatorships, and war.
This form of cultural expression illustrated the importance of history and politics to the Mexican people in this era of change. The bold colors and lines of their pieces also showcased the artistic and cultural aesthetic.
Music.Flamenco music and dance in Spain is one of the liveliest representations of an already lively culture.
The dance, which is one full of controlled movement, intense facial expression, and dramatic costume, experienced its golden age from 1869 to 1910 but is still very popular today.
Along with evocative singing, the Spanish guitar, hand drums, and the Flamenco clap, known as Palmas, the experience of Spanish music and dance draws the emotions of the performers and the audience into one powerful crescendo.
Nikolai Gogol. Anton Chekhov. Leo Tolstoy. Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The Russian soul is best expressed in the works of its greatest writers.
Literature is a canvas of cultural self-reflection. Many of the greatest authors of any given time or place know just how to record and express what their culture is in that moment…and across the ages, as well.
Dostoevsky said the Russian soul was a dark place, and Alexei K. Tolstoy captured that place in one beautiful quote:
“It is sad, yet joyful, on a silent summer’s night, in a voiceless wood, to hear a Russian song. Here we find unlimited sadness without hope. Here, also is unconquerable strength and the unalterable stamp of Fate; here, also is iron predestination, one of the primitive foundations of the Russian national identity, through which much can be explained which seemed inexplicable in Russian life.”
The great literary masters are able to articulate the very essence of what it’s like to be Russian.
And if that isn’t the power of cultural expression in a nutshell, then I don’t know what is.
Creative expression is the living and breathing spirit of a culture. It breathes life into society, explodes onto the canvas, and serves as a monumental representation of who we are as one.