Showing posts with label intimacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intimacy. Show all posts

December 3, 2015

A Safe, Easy Way To...

I'm currently working on a project with a writer friend. He sends me writing, I send him pictures in response. At least that's the plan. So far all I've managed to do is read and re-read the words he's sent me over and over. It's more challenging than I first imagined because every time I read them, they sound completely different and I keep coming up with different answers...

It's making me realize how easy it is to misconstrue things, and with all our preconceived notions, how quick we are to jump to conclusions and assign swift judgements. Human brains do this automatically. We categorize everything the second our senses get hold of it.

When it comes to the written word, there's no doubt that the more times you read something the better you understand it. I'm sure that I've thrown out and deleted so many letters and messages that I completely misunderstood because I looked at them too quickly. You read something like a text message once and immediately respond thinking you know exactly what it's all about, but it happens that if you read it again three or four times you start to hear that person's voice a lot clearer and realize that you may have had it all wrong. I'm sure there are little misunderstandings like this going on all over the place all day long.
But I'm getting off the subject...

What I want to say is that when you look at a painting, it's exactly the same thing. It needs to be contemplated over and over. Because art is complex, every time you look at it you might see something different. It's naive to expect viewers to be open minded but it's kind of a requirement when looking at art. Letting things go opens you up, opens your mind. Letting go of the quick judgement/categorization that automatically happens when we look at a work of art frees us to see it in a more truthful light, as it really is.

Once you've assessed and categorized something it's like you've closed the box on it. For example, it looks like a whale, it must be a whale, all I see is a whale, end of story. You've already dismissed it and you probably only spent about 15 seconds on it. According to statistics, the average museum visitor spends an average of 15-30 seconds in front of a work of art. 
(It took me longer to write this paragraph.)


detail work in progress, charcoal on canvas
Lately I've attempted through the strictest frugality of materials to discourage this kind of quick categorization of my own work, but it's nearly impossible. I'm fine with people seeing whales or dancers or whatever else they see in my abstractions, as long as the story doesn't end there. There should always be more to discover the more you look at a work of art. No simple explanation should be able to easily dismiss it.
Like great poetry or jazz, you should be able to discover something new every time you stand before it.

detail work in progress, charcoal on canvas
I recently had an interesting conversation about the significance of working in a museum. How profound an experience it is to be exposed to a collection of artwork something like 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Being in the presence of great works of art for that amount of time, especially if there are few others around, can be a meditative and intimate experience. (The Rothko Chapel comes to mind.) One gains a rare understanding of the work in a way that the average viewer never could. When I worked as a gallery assistant during an exhibition in 1997, After The Fall curated by Lilly Wei, I learned so much. I would say I learned more about abstract painting from that experience than 4 years of college. 

It's a serious luxury to have that kind of intimacy with a roomful of great artworks, but there are great luxuries to be had everyday by most of us if we pay attention. Knowing first hand how challenging it is to keep an open mind, if anything at all can be gained from a better understanding of the world around me, of art, of life, I'm willing to make an attempt to slow down a tiny bit and give it at least a few more seconds of my time.

Hopefully you are too...








April 24, 2015

Art: A Catalyst For Intimacy

Sometimes I think writing my blog is very much like writing a letter to an old friend..
filled with the personal details, thoughts, and answers to questions granted by a certain intimate personal knowledge and history. 
Like we already know each other so I can say this this way
and you'll know what I mean without having to wonder about it. 

Gerhard Richter

































I think of all the desires I've confused myself with in my life, it is the desire for intimacy that encompasses them all. What is it about us human beings that cannot exist without this?

Eventually all things get filtered through the lens of being an artist. Over time my paintings have become my representatives, speaking for me through metaphors and parables of color, line, and texture. They reveal my need to reveal myself. They act not only as a means of communication but encapsulate a part of me I don't even understand.

They share my deepest secrets... and there is nothing more intimate than a secret shared. It can give you almost a smug feeling to know someone has chosen you to reveal themselves to. 

That's what I want my art to be: a secret moment shared.

It involves more than just me, the creator. You the viewer are just as important. You get to feel smug about it and in return give back something as well.  

Because at its best and bravest art has the ability to do that, to act as a catalyst, moving us from one place to another, even if just in our imaginations.