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Symbolism in Art

This is a description of ‘Symbolism in Art’:

The term Symbolism means the systematic use of symbols or pictorial conventions to express an allegorical meaning. Symbolism is an important element of most religious arts and reading symbols plays a main role in psychoanalysis. Thus, the Symbolist painters used these symbols from mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul.

Not so much a style of art, Symbolism was more an international ideological trend. Symbolists believed that art should apprehend more absolute truths which could only be accessed indirectly. Thus, they painted scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena in a highly metaphorical and suggestive manner. They provided particular images or objects with esoteric attractions.

Here is another:

Symbolism was largely a reaction against Naturalism and Realism, anti-idealistic movements which attempted to capture reality in its gritty particularity, and to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. These movements invited a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, and dreams; the path to Symbolism begins with that reaction.1 Some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before moving in the direction of Symbolism; for Huysmans, this change reflected his awakening interest in religion and spirituality.

Here is one of my latest pieces:

Is this a reaction against Naturalism and Realism? YES
Is it about capturing a reality that goes against the grain of modern society? YES
Is it about an awakening interest in religion and spirituality? YES
Is it meant to access a truth, but indirectly? YES
Is it a systematic use of symbols and pictorial conventions? YES

Here is a photograph I posted recently, to brag up both model and photographer:

Could the blotting out of a beautiful girl’s face, in a warding off gesture, which left you n a state where you could not see her for anything but ‘eye’ be symbolic? YES!

They, along with a few other similar pieces, all have this in common, that they provably adhere to a traditional interpretation of symbolism in art, reaching beyond the physical and plainly seen to the spiritual and deeper meaning that one has to work to obtain.

That, and this “…was not accepted into the” Symbolism in Art": group about 10 hours ago. The reason was: “We think the work may be better suited to other groups. We’ll be happy to consider other works you submit to the group, provided they meet the guidelines and content requirements for inclusion.”

The last time this happened, I wrote to one of the co-hosts and explained the piece, and why it was symbolic, and showed them pieces that had not only been included, but actually featured, in the group, which were not nearly as rife with systematic symbolism, or spirituality, or et.c Then I asked why mine was rejected. That co-host told me it wouldn’t have been rejected by them, and suggested I write to the other co-hosts and ask them.

Well, I didn’t. This is because i had other things to do, people to visit, and etc.. But, any of you who knows me at all, knows that I am not one to sit around on my hands and pretend that it’s okay that group co-hosts act in this manner.

If you have rules for a group, then those rules should be followed. It doesn’t matter if you, personally, enjoy the piece or the artist who created it. The only exception should be if you allow something in which doesn’t quite fit the rules but which you are in agreement with other co-hosts on that it would be good for the group to experience!

Here is what the group has to say for itself:

About This Group

More than just a pretty picture

Here is an example of what they consider to be symbolism in art:

Eh? Nice image, I’ll say, but, more symbolic, less realistic, than a hand drawing of a huge-eyed, half -faced person of indeterminant sex amidst a sea of flowers, and circles that are pure except at the heart of them, and etc? I don’t bloody well think so!

How about this one?

I really like that one! But, doesn’t it seem a bit familiar to you, in theme? Weird faces, some fairly close to real, some a bit far off, myriad pieces of weird sticking out all over .. hmm .. I wonder who it is that does art that is of a similar description?

And, more importantly, why their art keeps getting rejected as not being symbolic!?

Here is an image that was rejected not long before the last time I dropped the group like it was madder than a box of barking hats!

Hmm .. hearts, wilted flowers, tear drop shapes, a partially hidden face, etc. Could that be… (shock shock) .. symbolism?

Answers would be lovely. So, I am submitting this to the group via email since I can’t do it any other way, and hoping for a civil reply; because, here is the rest of the group rules:

Group Rules:

2 submissions per day (must be approved)
Work must be your own (not photos of temples, frescos, murals, statues or cave paintings)

So, one is not a photograph I took, no – but it is a daughter I created in the photograph and it was sent to me, to post as i please- so it is mine! Still, I’ll concede that one if you like,

What I want to know is why my own work, that is more than just a pretty picture, that is, by traditional standards, symbolic artwork, is continually rejected by the group Symbolism in Art when less traditionally symbolic art is accepted and featured.


Response from one co-host:
Hey Arletta,

Thanks for your message and very interesting essay about symbolism. I couldn’t agree more. I haven’t had time the last month or so to moderate due to other commitments, and since then I have had multiple people send me complaints about their work being rejected. Symbolism is a tough one because their doesn’t exist today any set rules in our subjective art world. We receive enormous amounts of work that is not what I would consider to be symbolism. For example photos of sunsets with symbolic titles such as one I saw which was titled “divine” are not my idea of a symbolic work for a few reasons. One, because it is an actual photo of the sun. Two, because the only thing steering the viewer into thinking the photo should be viewed as symbolic is the title. Three, the artist may or may not have been contemplating the symbolism of the piece while creating it except later on when coming up with a title.

These are my rules that I use to decide whether or not to allow a piece in. So far they have worked for me, but you must understand that symbolism is extremely complex and widely varying in interpretation, and I have a feeling one of our moderators is letting work through that they “like” and blocking work that they “don’t like”. By applying these rules I stated above I can decide whether or not the work is symbolic or not regardless of my tastes. As they motto suggests “more” than a pretty picture.

Now, your work does not violate any of these rules I have used therefore I know your work is symbolism. I have let work through with similar aesthetic appeal many times before. It’s not the same as my work aesthetically but in essence us symbolic artists transcend aesthetic and connect in substance and the facts that we are human.

I’m writing you this because I feel sad that you have been upset by our group which has neglected to make accurate decisions according to their own mission statement. All I ask is if you can send me the other moderators responses to your essay in hope that I can do something about it? This has been a long term problem since I have been on here and I’m rather tired of it. I hope you can help me with this because I’m not sure what else to do.

Kind regards.

and my reply:

Surely, I will do that, if I get any responses.

So you know, I didn’t want to name names and cause problems between your co-hosts and all, so when I mentioned the response I got – months ago now- from one co-host who said they didn’t know why my work was rejected and that they would have let it through, I didn’t mention who it was. But, I shall tell you, it was…. someone or other. ……. ……. ? I cant’ remember the name for sure, but, definitely a … or ……

So, that leads me to believe that s/he is not part of the problem. Or, if s/he is, in a different fashion. lol

Don’t feel too bad, as yours is certainly not the only group that has the same sort of problem. I’ve had other groups do it to me, and I know many other people who have shared similar experiences with me. Some of them, it really was just their problem, not the groups; but, most, it was for completely inexplicable reasons that their work was rejected.

Thank you for your reply.

(I removed the name and sex, for the same reason I didn’t put them in to begin with. I do not wish to accuse anyone, particularly. I just want things to change for the better.)


Good response so far. It’s nice to have the problem acknowledged and all, really.

Symbolism in Art


Joined March 2008

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 7

Artist's Description

A brief explanation of pont of view and request for clarification from the Symbolism in Art group


Wrote to all four co-hosts with this: Hello. This email is in regards to the group ‘Symbolism in Art’ and why there is a continued rejection of all my pieces, despite that they do follow the group rules as well as are founded in traditional symbolism by definition.

Please read This, and respond. Sorry it isn’t more personal, but, then neither were any of the rejections, and I am sending this to a few persons at once.

Thank you for your time.


Yes, I learned from having an ex-husband to always keep records and put everything in writing, as much as possible, so no one can successfully accuse you of attacking them later when you didn’t. Some people call it paranoid, but, then, some people have not been through 20 years, give or take, of hell.

Artwork Comments

  • Anita Inverarity
  • Arletta
  • lightsmith
  • Arletta
  • Arletta
  • lightsmith
  • Arletta
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