I’ve (we’ve ) invested quite a lot of energy ( and money) into my attending this summer critique program . Searching for direction and clarity in how and perhaps where to take my work and its development .This morning in a group critique led by the head of this program and a well regarded artist here ( and abroad ) , I had my moment of (ambivalent) clarity.
I had been wrestling with the issue of an academy , of how academies themselves have wrestled with their own bias/preferences/ directions . Orthodoxy , though publicly decried , has a place here, and I suppose in every institution to some extent. Grand history painting and allegory may be chucked for dystopic nudes and the lush color field but there is still an academic tradition that’s must be defended .
Today I felt at odds with that well defended force and now feel eviscerated. I’m not the first to feel this, nor will I be the last. But I’m left feeling where do the Misfit Toys go to hide?
Inward in my case.
Many valid points were made, the learning of basic tools such as light and space , all quite valid and attainable . Yet the prevailing ethos of “rawness”, “destruction ” and “randomness ” confounds me and sent me adrift . My clarity was that this is not the place for me; perhaps as a place to gain technical skills, which being self taught I am ( quite literally ) painfully aware of. But unless this place has room for expression outside of Guston, Richter and Carravagio with their robust forcefulness, it is a bad fit.
This quest for displays of rawness and random brutality ( with the ubiquitous drip of frenzied creativity ) has little appeal to me. The macho posturing of the Abstract Expressionists has arisen anew here . If I hear “muscular, juicy, raw, meaty” one more time I’m going to scream .
I sense on a visceral level that I just rubbed this critic the wrong way . I wasn’t an open enough vessel for him. His “positive”advice for me was to become acquainted with Bosch, Jung and Campbell. I explained that I am familiar with that Holy Trinity.
That might not have pleased him.
Plus my work is effete and theatrical, relying upon tricks of the stage at times . I get why such a Serious artist would dismiss it or have issue .
My ambivalence is rooted in my being so self- taught and yet desiring more skill to better express my mystical dreamscapes .
I know I’m not there yet, but I do know I’m developing my own vocabulary. One full of errors and missteps perhaps , but my own .
This artist suggested I discard the painting I’ve been working on and instead focus upon the Fish ( above ); THAT he declared was THE painting, in fact not the fish, just its eye.
Silliness and the Emperor’s Finery.
I almost chuckled but instead scoffed,claiming that the weakest link of the painting is that element, that it is the most derivative ( reminding me of a platter by Picasso) and certainly the least authentic .
I’m not ready to throw the baby out but the bath water is decidedly tepid and unpleasant at the moment . There is an artist at PAFA I sincerely admire , her work being singular and clearly her own. I’m going to reach out to her, if she is willing and get her opinion as if this could be a good fit.
But at the moment I lament the money and time invested; also the letting go of a romantic notion.
Until next time, be well,