Phrase book art
Ok, so I’ve been thinking (prepare yourself), well mulling over stuff really. With my first show coming up soon, I’m mainly busy doing still life paintings for it. That is what the gallery asked for, but that aside, from time to time I find myself asking myself is this what Iwant to do? Do I have something unique to say? Am I saying anything here. And really, hasn’t it all been done before? All pretty existential really eh?
Going one step further
Cézanne in his day was influenced by Pizarro and in turn Picasso and was influenced by Cézanne. And of course by influenced here I mean used (even robbed) their predecessors ideas and techniques. But each of these masters developed those ideas a step further.
So is that what I should be doing? Developing the ideas of what is current in the world of art and pushing it one step further. The thing is, that doesn’t really set me on fire.
Nothing new under the sun
I watched an interview with Damien Hirst recently (he’s the famous/infamous British conceptual artist). The interviewer put it to him that much of Damien’s work has been “done” before. It was thrown at him as a criticism but Damien shrugged it off. “Of course it’s not original, nothing is”*. (watch the interview here) Some would say that humans have been regurgitating the same small number of ideas over and over since the first cave drawings where scratched out on a wet afternoon.
In a similar vein, I was struck by a sentence I read last night about how we inherit much of who we are. “We are all just vessels through which identities pass: we are lent features, gestures, habits, then we hand them down. Nothing is our own.”**. I know that’s true of me. But it’s not the whole truth. It certainly doesn’t mean that each of us is a lifeless facsimile. Each of us is an individual, has a spark, for want of a better word. And isn’t it that uniqueness that we find interesting?
So where does that leave me and what I do?[singlepic id=302 w=400 h=600 float=]
Does the world really need another still life?
My friend Kevin McSherry’s view is “what is the point of art unless you have something to say? I mean, who really needs another still life?”
In other words, whatever our medium or technique, whatever we choose to create, it should be unique to us as an individual. It should express our own voice. And that it is what is interesting. Not to everyone maybe, but that’s ok too.
Learning a new language
I know I have voice and I know I have lots to say but for me right now I’m feel like I’m learning a new language. I’m learning my craft. But I guess the trick is not to spend so much time learning the language so as to become an academic bore, but instead to get out there in the pub, the shop, the street and start using it.
Phrase book art
So even though I am sometimes gripped with a feeling of not being ready yet to show, of not being fluent enough, it is a way of getting out there and using this new language. Time will bring the rest. So for now I’ll keep talking even if it is still just phrase book art!* Damien Hirst speaking in a “in confidence” Sky Arts interview with Laurie taylor. March 2010. ** The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell