What or whom is art for?

Yesterday I decided to paint something and probably because I haven’t done visual art in a few weeks I keep staring at it and hating it. Just absolutely tearing it and my artistic capabilities down. And the annoying thing is that the work is good. Like, objectively looks like the thing I painted, is composed really well, and has a color palette that I enjoy. But in my mind that only makes it bad.

Why?

Because it is not unique. It is simply a rendition of the real thing. It doesn’t say anything about me or the world around me. It isn’t visually unique. It doesn’t feel like it has purpose. I’m so obsessed lately by this idea of purpose. For better or worse. Everything has to be meaningful. Even though everything is meaningless and therefore I should enjoy the world and art. That feels like the true purpose of art. That I have fun while doing it. That others have fun while consuming it. Isn’t that why Joy of Cooking was so popular. Because it made cooking accessible and fun for millions of people who might not have touched a spatula beforehand? Isn’t that what I miss so much about being a child? Dipping my finger in paint and working at a blank page; not caring if it made me money, hung on my parents fridge, won a prize, etc.

But I’ve always had this desire to have all of life be meaningful. I’ve always consciously tried to improve my art. I’ve always had the demon in the back of my mind telling me it could be improved.

Maybe a sense of purpose is a base human need? Is this why the Japanese tend to live longer?