Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 93
will become clear
only when you look
into your heart.
Who looks outside,
Who looks inside
Carl Gustav Jung
I just had a flashback to a childhood dream. A frequently occurring one.
In it, I am in this ambiguous space with a huge pencil on my shoulder. For the duration of the dream, I’m trying to write or draw something on a very viscous surface. The combination of the pencil’s weight, it’s awkward and unruly size and, the uncooperative surface is frustrating. The memory of this dream was prompted by my attempt to assess the feeling of isolation that I have as an artist.
Especially, now. Now, that painting is no longer a delayed vocation or, for that matter an avocation. I’ve evolved quite a bit from when I first reemerged in 2011 with my first solo exhibition at the Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford. No more thematic shows or thematic work, for that matter.
Titles were dropped. Work was, instead, given a catalog or stock identification. I reassessed everything. I painted only to solve visual problems; sangfroid and without any emotional starting point or basis.
Yet, there are doubts. Am I just a jaded old abstract painter? I can’t call myself an Abstract Expressionist because expression represents emotion.
However, my bride-to-be Paula, insists that my work is highly emotional and evocative. In Hindi, evocative means serving or, bringing to mind. Paula says my work produces memories, ideas, emotions and responses in, and for, the viewer.
I am staring into the future. I’m reassessing myself and my work, not as myself, but as someone else. My work has to be as authentic and as original as possible. But, authenticity and originality is not a goal. The authentic nature of the work comes from who I am.
As for originality, the poet W. H. Auden wrote, “Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.”
Mark Twain wrote, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
Looking back to the first steps I took as an art student; I started on this direction on the advice of my instructor and mentor, Ed Togneri and started to work in the manner of Alberto Burri. Preparatory sketching led to the calligraphic element in my work which was likened to Cy Twombly which, was odd because I had never seen his work or heard of him until someone pointed out how uncannily similar our work was. The Twombly-thing has all but disappeared with this last batch of work.
Oh, and vision? What is my “artistic vision”? I have no idea! The Czech writer Vaclav Havel said, “Vision is not enough – it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.” At one point, I was convinced that I was some sort of channel; a medium trying to interpret or transcribe a meaning or a message from outside of me or, beyond.
Now I go back to that reoccurring dream and somewhat understand that message, that meaning, that vision is inside. I still don’t know what it is or, its purpose and that’s where the feeling of isolation comes from. Maybe, it is as Hans Hoffman said, “To sense the invisible and to be able to create it, that is art.”
Paul Klee said, “Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible.” Dream guides interpret that dreaming of drawing something could be a sign that I should pay more attention to the irrational, creative and intuitive aspects of my personality. But, I was only five or six at the time. And yet, I have always remembered this dream.
What are the irrational, creative and intuitive aspects of my personality? I have no idea. I had a Jesuit priest as an instructor in college. He said he joined the order to get closer to God. However, the closer he would get to God, the further away God would move!
Alberto Giacometti said, The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity. He also said that, “In every work of art the subject is primordial, whether the artist knows it or not. The measure of the formal qualities is only a sign of the measure of the artist’s obsession with his subject; the form is always in proportion to the obsession.”
It seems I’m no closer to figuring myself or my work out. So, I’ll take Paula up on her tried and true advise and antidote, “Paint Ron!”
Posted on: 26/04/2017, by : Ron Fortier