*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Science is concerned with the general, the abstract, and the knowable. In contrast, art deals with the particular, the unknowable, the singular. This applies not just to the content of artistic works but also to the way this content is received. Even in the case of a film or concert attended by large numbers of people, the artistic experience remains a fundamentally solitary one. Each one of us lives the work from the work alone. Whatever sense of togetherness accompanies the experience comes precisely from the fact that, faced with the singularity of the aesthetic moment, each percipient feels his aloneness before the radical mystery that enfolds us all. Wherever an act of creation is shared with others, then, there is individuation – not just for the author of the work but for the audience too. The singularity of art awakens us to our own singularity, and through it to the singularity in the Other. I have argued that artifice unifies by imposing a univocal image that replicates itself indefinitely in each spectator. True art tears the spectral out of the mass of sameness, calling forth from the numberless crowd a new people and a new communion.
Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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Q: It is well known that you gain inspiration from foreign travel. Has anyone ever accused you of stealing their culture?
A: Yes, a few people have done so via comments on Facebook. It came as a shock.
The logic of such an accusation presumes ownership. I don’t believe any person has a claim to owning culture.
Travel is arguably the best education there is. My travels around the world, supplemented with lots of research once I return home, are an important part of my creative process. This is how I develop ideas to forge a way ahead. It is difficult and solitary work.
Every artist is tasked with remaining open to influences – however, wherever, and whenever they appear. Somewhat late in life, travel as a source of inspiration found ME. And it has been a blessing!
People around the world have become fans. Many send messages of thanks saying they are proud that some aspect of their country’s culture has inspired my work. I am always grateful and touched to know this.
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A: As artists each of us has at least two important responsibilities: to express things we are feeling for which there are no adequate words and to communicate to a select few people, who become our audience. By virtue of his or her own uniqueness, every human being has something to say. But self-expression by itself is not enough. As I often say, at it’s core art is communication. Without this element there is no art. When artists fail to communicate, perhaps they haven’t mastered their medium sufficiently so are unsuccessful in the attempt, or they may be being self-indulgent and not trying. Admittedly there is that rare and most welcome occurrence when an artistic statement – such as a personal epiphany – happens for oneself alone.
Most importantly, always listen to what your heart tells you. It knows and speaks the truth and becomes easier to trust as you mature. If you get caught up in the art world, step back and take some time to regain your bearings, to get reacquainted with the voice within you that knows the truth. Paint from there. Do not ever let a dealer or anyone else dictate what or how you should paint.
With perhaps the singular exception of artist-run cooperative galleries, be very suspicious of anyone who asks for money to put your work in an exhibition. These people are making money from desperate and confused artists, not from appreciative art collectors. With payment already in hand there is no financial incentive whatsoever for these people to sell your paintings and they won’t.
Always work in a beautiful and special place of your own making. It doesn’t need to be very large, unless you require a large space in which to create, but it needs to be yours. I’m thinking of Virginia Woolf’s “a room of one’s own” here. A studio is your haven, a place to experiment, learn, study, and grow. A studio should be a place you can’t wait to enter and once you are there and engaged, are reluctant to leave.
Be prepared to work harder than you ever have, unrelentingly developing your special innate gifts, whether you are in the mood to do so or not. Most of all remember to do it for love, because you love your medium and it’s endless possibilities, because you love working in your studio, and because you feel most joyously alive when you are creating.
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