Let us for a moment imagine that all visual categories (realism, abstraction, expressionism, etc.) of painting are equal. What makes these things what they are? The answer is paint. It is very simple... there's not much else to say, really. Pessimist/Optimist: All paintings are lies. The only paintings that tell the truth are those that are just paint. Truth = paint. Minimalism, non-representational, and so on so forth. Just charcoal. Just a canvas. Just oil paint. They are what they are. Images do not lie hidden within. Nakedness at it's finest. Emotion + paint = splattered canvas. Instant fame. Optimist/Pessimist: All paintings are windows into another world or into the artist's soul. Artists trick the eye of the viewer using skills learned by the passing-down of knowledge. Techniques, do's and don'ts, grids, camera obscura. Paint becomes the Hand of God itself - quite literally. Or the faces of your beloved family, "immortalized" with paint + artist's skill = "art". Perceived reality painted on a solid, real surface. We fall headfirst into the world represented on a canvas or board. Instant fame. Both: We knew all along that it was just paint. You don't have to be optimistic or pessimistic to understand that. It was only a matter of time before we understood the truth behind the lies. Now choose your path(s) and continue.