Aesthetic Explorations 2020: Fire Aesthetic

The fire aesthetic is one which pertains or relates to the element of open flames or objects which are burning. Fire has always been revered for its many useful purposes as well as its raw power and destructive capabilities. Fire has been around since the beginning of time, and man has interacted with it ever since. I think what makes fire such a unique aesthetic is its natural occurrence in nature and its ability to provide comfort to humans, but on the other hand capable of wiping out forests, leveling cities, and destroying anything in its path.

Photo by: Noah Berger – November 1st, 2019

This photo taken of a California wildfire in November of 2019 clearly depicts the raw power and destruction that fire can cause. The deep, dark colors (reds and oranges) surrounding the destructive aspect of fire stir up an unsettling emotion to the viewer. It brings sadness for the loss of beauty in nature and solemness for the understanding of the destruction wildfires have on the earth.

Image result for ancient paintings of fire
Painting by: Joseph Mallard William Turner – The Burning House of Parliament 1834

This painting from the 1800s by Joseph Turner vividly depicts another facet in how fire can be used to destroy man-made structures, and harnessed to wage war and cause destruction. This painting accurately shows the sheer massiveness of fire, and its ability to consume. The bright orange and yellow brings heat to the painting and makes it come to life.

Takazawa Candle Company – Nanao City, Japan

Fire can take a very tranquil and calm form such as a still burning candle. In this fashion fire illuminates dark places, and provides a feeling of warmth and security and acts as a symbol of peacefulness.

close view of bonfire
Photo by: Nathan Lindahl

Campfires provide a source of physical heat to keep people warm and act as a center to bring communities together. This form of fire gives people the sense of coziness and belonging. Its warmth stirs emotions of happiness and joyfulness in its controlled form.

Photo by: Jonathan Lo

Fire in its natural form also represents the circle of life in nature and new beginnings. After its destructiveness new life appears. I see fire as a dichotomy representing many opposites all in one. Destructiveness and new life, danger and comfort, light for the darkness, loud and subtle.


Image result for paintings of fire
Painting by: Usha Shantharam

The fire aesthetic is not only used in photography but also paintings in order to capitalize on human emotion and visual stimulation. Some renderings convey emotion of fear and darkness such as this painting by Shantharam in 2010.


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Noah Verspohl
    January 26, 2020 5:41 pm

    I enjoyed the flow of ideas in the post. I liked how you explored the different ways that fire can impact life and how it is used in art. I also liked how you tied human emotions to the different visuals you used; this allowed me to relate my own feelings to the pieces as well. I would have liked to hear more of your opinion of fire and its use in art. Do you admire the tranquil uses of flames or it’s destructive might?

    • Nathaniel Wang
      January 28, 2020 8:46 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I definitely enjoy the use of the fire aesthetic in certain forms of art. I certainly its use in photography and the real wholesome perspective that it can capture. I also really enjoy its use in realism paintings and drawings as I think it shows real skill of the artist in capturing the dynamics and qualities of this element. Personally, I prefer the use of the fire aesthetic in a more relaxing tranquil aspect. I think this is largely due to positive life experiences which trigger positive emotions.

  • Nathaniel,
    Really cool post. It’s quite interesting the similarities of themes used in modern day aesthetic in the “fire” aesthetic and how the same themes appear in my own post about the “ocean” aesthetics. The power dynamic of fire is fascinating to me. Fire strikes such a deep and meaningful feeling into every human in my opinion because it is what propelled us to the top of the food chain. The destructive and sheer awe of the California fires verses a quaint campfire on the beach really goes to show how fire can be terrifying and calming at the same time. My question for you is what other themes and sub-aesthetics could exist with fire? Infinite? Or is it subjective to the artist themselves on how to interpretate fire. Overall great post.

    • Nathaniel Wang
      January 28, 2020 8:56 pm

      Thanks for the comment. To answer your questions, I think there are almost limitless sub-aesthetics that could be paired and interpreted with the fire aesthetic. Especially when paired with abstract and other forms of art. I think an aesthetic that is often seen within fire is a “boldness” aesthetic. Typically bold colors are used to paint or describe the flames behind a darker canvas. I think you are certainly correct in the comment on how it is mostly up to the artist and how they interpret fire in an artistic form.


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