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The other side of the abyss

March 28, 2014

116

 

After  a few years of work and contemplation, detached from the art world I think I may have found what I was looking for, in one sense it seems simplistic but it has taken a long and convoluted journey to get here. A place where there is a level of clarity in an approach and a true understanding of what art means or what art is to me. I took a leap into the dark, not knowing why or where  I was heading, it was an impulse to alleviate a deep despair that was overwhelming my life. Although I’ve lost track of time I feel that I’ve been in this process of transition for about four years now and the incredible thing is that all my experiences, work and circumstantial interactions have led me in a  direction where I found what I didn’t know what I was looking for.  I do feel this journey was triggered through conversations that made me reflect, partly from the conceit others had demonstrated that undermined my credibility and also because I felt a dwindling respect for who I was and what I was pursuing. That was my wake up call that led me to a trail of events in which everything started to fall into p[lace and slowly I was able to articulate myself with greater clarity through my work and also through writing. But this task was immense because the corrosive aspects of my life had really damaged my confidence and left me embattled, like a wounded animal. I’m fortunate in terms of my inner strength and at my core I always believed in who I am, though I didn’t feel the world did and to be quite frank I no longer cared. So this process was about healing wounds and eventually standing up and making work to put out into the world, work backed up by a robust set of reasons for being, work that meant something. Genuine,  real, honest and something that I truly believe in, that I’m proud of , not a token gesture thrown into the art world to measure up to others expectations, but to walk tall and do it my way, the only way I truly know how.

But this process was far deeper than I imagined and it not only involved a massive personal deconstruction, but the breaking down of all my preconceived notions of what art is, so that I could see through all the constructs and the historical organisation of art in its broadest terms. In terms of my personal deconstruction, I did this through my project Soul~Fields which moved me deeply and was like a profound spiritual awakening, through it I was able to come to terms with the deaths of my mother and sisters. But it also awoke something deep inside me that shook my intellectual approach to art so violently that I was unable to reconnect with that approach. My perception of Art had changed profoundly and this was irreversible because I had crossed a Rubicon and discovered a depth that was beyond my comprehension. On a practical level I explored the deconstruction of female figures working purely on intuition and was amazed at the results that went beyond my previous intellectual approach and in so doing I had made a vast step into uncertainty and I was now being led through my art by a different force that was contrary to my upbringing and perceived wisdom. I knew not why , but I had to follow this blindly, trying to make sense at what appeared like a new random approach, but I trusted and fronted up to my experiments, I posted my work and faced the consequences. The work flowed in an incredible fashion and bit by bit it all started to make sense. I had found the courage to be a free thinking artist and ditched so much of the prejudicial baggage that had stifled my spirit and subdued my creativity. In short I didn’t give a fuck, I had an opportunity for something special and defining in my life as an artist, a gift beyond anything that I had ever imagined. The incredible thing is that I was able to cope with almost no sleep and my enthusiasm has not waned for years, I feared burn out but there have been no signs and my imagination is still wild.

I paid little regard to my material needs and made art that was not a product or for sale because I didn’t want to feel that I was performing to others, I wanted to make my art and find out who I was and this was my greatest ever challenge, because the root of my art was changing as I realised how society had indoctrinated my thinking into making art that fitted into the art world. That is art about art as opposed to the art of life and living in a reality without confines,disciplines and expectations, ordinary artistic expression in isolation without imposing contexts and without a need for a wider context. I had always been relatively quiet about the bullshit of the art world, because I felt I had to be a part of it, but I was deeply troubled and felt it wasn’t my place to criticise it publicly, in short I knew my place but this was about to change.

I had no choice but to make this giant leap and for a long time I was quite lost and bewildered by the enormity of possibilities, I didn’t know what to do next, there was no deadline or anything beyond pursuing the mystery of life, which slowly extricated me from the societal imprisonment that I had been subjected too. These times were hard because I couldn’t explain to people around me what I was doing because quite frankly I had no idea, it was an open journey without a destination and I was under great financial pressures which didn’t help. But I refused to be broken by a society based on a capitalistic democracy that rides rough shod over all that is precious in life. Hence my saying  “fuck you, you fucking fuckers” because if I feel embattled from my stance, I’m not taking any more crap from sources that I feel heap pressures to conform on people like myself. Without free thinking antiestablishment figures the world would remain locked into narrow plains of conformity, unchallenged and free to reign supreme over our lives. This anti establishment stance was key to me finding my new way of seeing because as I analysed the art world I got a feel that money spoke, from the top down and how this influenced art and the motivation of artists and I include myself here because I had been lured into a more compliant stance, dictated by money, product and reputation. As an artist you are a small fish and you deal with rich people, you may be a bit of a rebel but you know your place and that you must impress these people to live, in short you are dealing with people who know less about art than you and yet they dictate the terms, it is a curious relationship. I in my own life complied for a long time untill about two years ago when a gallery owner in Edinburgh disrespected me and that was the final straw, I was not going to allow that to happen to me again. The art world had suffocated me and made transparent the pretence of high society who gleefully trade the  products of impoverished artists, artists who are often broken by the system as they long to be accepted. I’ve seen it and lived it for nearly thirty years and now will choose to work through my own window of enlightenment, the way I see fit, the powers that be can take it or leave it and I’m not interested in their judgements because I make work that I believe in.

So I got here through some very hard lessons, but there was no short cut, this was my prize, a prize to reward my endeavours to produce art with integrity at any personal cost. And It’s priceless because it is a wisdom that I hold dear and one that is making me feel happy in the depth of my being, because I feel complete and like the artist I always aspired to be. I’m not rated as an artist out there in the world but inside I know that what I’m doing is right and feels precious to me, after all it’s the Bridge~Style unique to me, it stretches me to my limits in every direction and it makes me smile and laugh, because when you live the life you believe in you are truly alive.

The reason I was writing just now was to explain my conclusions at present, in which I wanted to explain how my intellectual approach to art that slotted neatly into a more historical context  had been compromised and while it still exists in part I feel it has been replaced by a more intuitive approach which can only be described as spiritual. So that when I look to create, I’m trying to feel the work in a more natural way as opposed to construct it within the parameters of a more doctrinal approach. To do this I had to unshackle myself from conventional parameters and notions of society and trust in the timeless human quality that resides within us all, which is why I’ve been dismissing art history and the dogmatic academic thinking that looks to explain, control and categorize everything. Our whole lives are bound up in a powerful conditioning and indoctrination that inhibits our creativity through the confines of society, but art by its nature is about a freedom to explore beyond language and boundaries and I would say that in the evolutionary journey of an artist it is natural to reach conclusions similar to mine. Though I may be wrong, because I only have my own perspective, but now as this stage of my journey ends, then so a new one begins as I enter the dawn of the next step of my journey.

sweet nothings

 

Poignant Reminders

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