lundi 24 février 2014

Not giving a damn

ghost in the making. oil on canvas. 50x50cm.

I was reflecting on the notion of not giving a damn whether anyone sees what I do or not and whether I meant it. Fresh from reading The Art Fair by David Lipsky, and being amused by the story of the need to be seen and being seen to be seen, I am the very worst of self promoters because of course this, here, is what I am doing but doing it in a relatively defendable way. There is no one (other than my wife)  coming to my painting and offering criticism face to face.  I can post an image and walk away. 

Sharon Knettle sharonknettell.blogspot Painting from Life posted a piece from Jed Perl which is worth reading and the I found by chance something written by the actor James Cromwell. Both of these observations are relevant for all of us who work day in day out on our own and work because to not do so would pose an even bigger risk to ourselves.

From Jed Perl,

What happens to an artist whose development receives so little public recognition? I am not talking about unfulfilled promise. I am referring to artists who have done an immense amount and now, at mid-career, are at the point where they have to find it within themselves to do even more. Can artists keep on doing their damnedest when the wide world doesn't give a damn.

From James Cromwell,

The antidote to this malaise exists, as it always has, in immediate felt experience, full self-expression, the inspiration of the imagination, the power in the collective celebration of the ecstatic, and the revolutionary potential of all art to transform the commonplace into the miraculous. All this is anathema to the status quo, and a dire threat to the agendas of power. “To hold the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure” is today an act of insurrection. In our drug addicted, violence prone, greed induced and celebrity besotted culture, where the one tenth of one percent have a stranglehold on the organs of communication, it is imperative to raise our collective voice in resistance. 

and so to the idea of looking at and making a portrait. Think of this: Every portrait exposes a truth that rides on the inherent lies. Our existence is transitional and subjective and this is the condition that portraiture tries to absolve. Every portrait then is a fight or, you could say prayer, that calls out from the most troubled condition of our humanity. Portraiture wants what cannot be had. Life to stop without being dead. It is an art with a built in condition of failure and that is why it is so interesting.

Debra Brehmer. Director National Portrait Gallery, London.