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The Agony of Enlightenment

November 3, 2015

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Yesterday in conversation, the phrase “The agony of enlightenment” popped out of my mouth and it stayed in my thoughts, so I thought I’d expand upon it and post it here as another offering to the great void. 🙂

The nature of art often drives the makers of it towards spiritual awakening and enlightenment. It’s not necessarily some grandiose state of being, but more a heightened state of consciousness. A consequence of the reflections which art demands and a consequence of the awkward relationship artists have with society, which enforce a need to address the issues and status within society. Because being an artist, in my humble opinion, requires and demands, the fusion of  a broad swathe of conceptual notions into relationships which form a whole or a statement. Art does not have to be about beauty, harmony, order or balance or anything in particular because it can be about everything and  nothing if touching the void is what suits you, though I would say that nothing is actually something, because it has conceptual possibilities. 🙂

In my daily living I’ve always chosen the ordinary life and because of this I feel that I’ve been able to keep it fairly real, something which has provided me with my own unique perspective. I feel that I’m an artist of the people as opposed to an artist of the art world something which is really important to me. Because I want a voice that is common to the people who I believe have as much right to art as anyone else, I’m talking the common people like me. Because of this my art is accessible and friendly but it’s subversive too and offers a real alternative on what I feel is a most profound level, possibilities explored through metaphor and the impossibilities which sculpture invites me to explore.

When I speak of the choices I’ve made as an artist, I refer to my background as a second generation artist, which I believe gave me the choice to accept tradition and lineage, or to reject them to explore my own definitions of what art could actually mean, so that I could just be an individual artist. In hindsight I think it was a brave choice, but a choice of privilege and a choice based on a hope that integrity could really be at the root of my art, as opposed to trying to make a splash with possible contrivances and acts of provocation, from within the safety of a herd.

I believe my approach provides a fascinating challenge, offering a perception of  incremental enlightenment, through a very real context and with little external validation. Making my art and life  feel real to the point where I always feel the intensity of my isolation. It does however require a mental toughness or resilience to keep on going and it is my belief in the right I have to be me, which keeps me going, even through the most difficult times of utter despair.

Because of my chosen approach I feel a responsibility to offer value and something special through my work, so I remain humble and make no excuses for sub-standard work.  And it’s my goal to make exciting and thought-provoking art so that those who experience it have been honoured with something special and not alienated by conceit. Which is why I’m transparent with my whole process and intent and why I endeavour to explain the story behind my art and the reasons for making it.  However this choice has caused many problems for me because without the close ties to the art world infrastructure, I’ve become somewhat ostracized and unable to show my work publicly. I’ve also found myself  ideologically isolated because the values of  a singular approach do not conform to the conventions of  assumed doctrines, making me both an irrelevance and a threat to the values of the status quo.

From my perspective there is an undoubtable polarity between true art and the art promoted through the mechanisms and institutions of society, which places great strain upon the artist through the demands for compromise. I see this as the agony of the artist, because it tears you apart and causes great pain, but the flip side is that these feelings of alienation can set you free and allow your mind to travel beyond the conditionings of society. To the place where the contemplation of infinite possibility can lead to varying states of enlightenment, a wisdom fought for in order to understand predicament.

Eventually as I’ve wandered deeper into my own dreams and reality I’ve become even more detached from the pull of the art world and all the trappings of society, to the point where I’m at now and I wonder if there is any way back. A way of explaining what I’ve been trying to achieve and a way of sharing my reflections  and ideas about creativity. A realistic way of showing my work to a broader swathe of society, or do I just sign off and get on with doing what I’ve always done. Living my life in virtual isolation  with the curse of being the misunderstood artist,  a state which requires self validation so that I may continue to hold my head up high. The life marked out by the slow acquisition of empirical wisdom which allows me to go deeper into my subject matter and the exploration of life, meaning and purpose.

I could have veered towards a decorative creativity and pursued defined narratives in order to chase, but I felt it would have led to finite choices and possible compromise , so I chose a different option, an option based on a deep sense of what felt fundamentally true to me. An option which has led me along a path which I find complicated to articulate with words because it’s an evolving  personal visual language. It’s a variable approach and although there is an established aesthetic, the weight of my work is charged with the essence  of my being, I am my art and my art is me. Which is why I struggle to step outside of myself and explain what is my natural state of  existence. But I will attempt to write out my modus operandi over time, because I now feel that it’s important to explain my actions as an artist as a footnote to who may ever take an interest in my art, just in case somebody ever does.

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