Those who follow my work know that I mostly paint fantasy/surreal and children’s book illustration. These genres mostly fall under what can be called escapism, especially fantasy as its main and maybe only purpose is to create complete worlds and creatures that exist in fantasy only (or in folklore).
Most (visual) art produced nowadays exist almost entirely for the purpose to allow the viewer to escape into another reality. Realism is not that prevalent anymore. The vast amount of fantasy art available today shows that people have an immense desire for anything that gives them a “window to another world.”
One can argue that art and creativity itself is a form of escapism. We all know the popular image of the troubled artist who, between two suicide attempts paints or writes masterpieces. While it’s sadly true in many cases, I would argue that creativity doesn’t need that inherent desire to escape from the daily reality but it does help the creative process as it allows the artist to want to break free from conventions. Art also has therapeutic effects as it helps self-reflection and ultimately provides a “safe” environment for escapism (unlike drugs or alcohol).
The problem is that most societies consider art itself as a form of escapism and it can be one reason of why artists are often viewed as troubled, non-serious, lousy spirits who needs to mature (and get a serious job.) This is also connected to how children who draw or paint is considered normal as creativity is looked upon as a “phase” in one’s growing up, something that eventually he/she grows out of.
In my view we will see a change in attitudes when societies rethink their approach to escapism and how individuals deal with stress and everyday problems. If we accept that art (both the “consumption” and the creation of it) can function as a forum that enables personal growth, education and self-reflection outside of mere escapism which has a negative connotation, then we will see a change in how society views and values art.