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The Art of Despair

March 28, 2016


237Sometimes I feel that I’m finding my way through a misguidance of societal doctrine and liberating the  values I feel closer to my own truth. Something which has created a dilemma because I feel it’s exposed the limitations of how art is perceived through its use in society. I understand that society needs a certain amount of beaureucracy and order, but I’m also aware that art must challenge the restrictive practice of institutional policy. Otherwise artists and art will be tamed to fit within the framework of a convenient lineage, its future is laid out and in waiting. All this for convenience so that we can rest assured that everything has its right place in an increasingly prescriptive society.

Sweet vagaries of life at last I've found you

I often wonder just how do you survive as an artist and produce work freely which may have no place within your society. Well the answer from my experience so far is that you can’t, because when you step out of line nobody wants a piece of the action, ostensibly out of fear. Fear, because recognition of art is based on subjective agreement and understanding, so art without boundaries is complicated and without certainty. It therefore takes courage and belief for someone to stand up and champion the cause of an artist without any supporting validations. Particularly if the work is original, unproven and challenging.

Curious Encounter 1

I believe many artists perish in creative terms because of the subjective nature of societal judgement, because art is neither good or bad beyond this varying subjective criteria. The problem is that with our human insecurities and fear of exposure people club together to validate certain art, artists and arts movements. They also choose to ignore and reject the art of eqally valid contributors. The validations of art are as relevant as they are irrelevant and just contribute to the broader narrative of  a society looking in a specific direction. A society built upon establishing precedents which create a history a present and a future direction. A society obsessed with introspection and academic analysis to the point of being unable to see without  over-loaded preconceptions. The problem is that we are now so overloaded and saturated that we are becoming blind and stupefied by excess  in every possible sense. I as an artist feel this ridiculous pressure which affects my daily life.

Interaction 1

It’s not easy for artists because to fit in and prosper you must conform and if not your inconvenience to the system is punished by exclusion. The big issue is that art has a tendency to be subversive and deviate from conventional wisdom and even though that may just be a slight philosophical shift, it’s enough to warrant dismissal. Of course my opinion is singular and biased because I am one, like any other and my theoretical analysis is based on my own experience and interactions. But what I’ve grown to realise, is that my sole responsibility is to art and the imagery I produce, regardless of how it’s received.

colourful reflections 1

And so to my own life as an artist, with thirty years of hurt, I still feel despair  on a daily basis. Yet I battle on with a futile optimism living in hope and belief, a life compromised because I dared to follow a dream and a belief, funnily enough one that I still believe in. It’s been a crazy life and I’m still dancing to my own tune, (just) having fought off all he challenges. But only now is my imagery flowing with truth and authenticity as I find that singular connection to the core of my existence.


The last few years have been particularly tough, because I had to change my practice in order to realise my ideas, but I’ve made that transition from sculpture, through a vast collection of drawings and prints. I’ve also learned to write in an open and honest way about life and art, and I can’t tell you just how liberating that is, because it now overflows and spills out into my reality.


As an artist I’ve had to blossom as a single bloom and there is no real connection out there in the world beyond the way I openly share my imagery. This position has come about through circumstance and my dogged determination to remain true to my own cause in spite of all the pressures. I guess in the end there is a tendency to adopt a siege mentality and an over defensive approach in order to maintain a level of self-preservation, which is where I’m at right now. Maybe in time I will mellow, but right now I’m still sick of the feeling of being judged as an artist and just want to walk freely. After all art is what it is to everyone and we all hold an opinion relevant to our own journey.


I think the most profound aspect of being an artist for me is the realisation that art transcends generalisation and stereotyping, because it simply cannot conform to absolutes. To this sense it becomes futile to aspire to anything beyond the act of expression, simply because validation is subjective. And here lies the trap for the ambitious souls who seek status for their efforts, because validation is a meaningless vanity unless it’s backed up by a truth of being in which you implicitly understand achievement relative to perceived potential. Here again I go against the notion of hierarchy, to state that art it is not a race or a competition with others but a realisation of ones potential. So I say art is beyond finite judgment and being subject to subjectivity, an artist must find inner contentment in spite of circumstance. And this is why I’ve always walked alone as an artist, because I simply don’t want to be connected to something which I don’t believe in. I don’t wish to get involved in debates about the minutiae of intent involving approaches to art from which I feel unable to identify with, because my life has already been subject to way too much compromise.


In fact all I ever wanted to do was just make a bit of art to express myself and all that it’s done is bring everything crashing down upon me so that I feel battered and bruised. Like I’ve been punished for daring to live with a sense of freedom in the prison of society. But it’s probably my search for truths  which has led me to my greatest triumphs and tribulations. You see I could never understand why there were no answer to the big questions, which led me to observing the compromise that society demands. Such as to stop asking impossible questions which expose the parameters of societal imposition and instead adopt the platitudes and mantras of convention. I felt my observations  demonstrated the cut off points at which we surrender to the greater good of compromised existence. So as I searched in solitude for truth, in the questioning and contemplation of my art, I was reaching conclusions which were unsuitable for the polite ways of the art world. The fact is that the true breadth of my art was not convenient for the palette of the art world establishment and so I was forced into selecting an element of it. I was discovering that candid truth was unacceptable on all levels to the point now where we have to do and say all the right things to get on in a society built around economic principles. But as a kid who was I to challenge the establishment when I didn’t even understand myself.


Now as I look back I feel I would have made some different choices had I the knowledge I’ve since earned. Though all is not lost and I just hope through my accelerated process of realising ideas through drawing that I may reach the potential I feel is and always has been within my grasp. It is a cruel world for artists who are in the firing line of an ideological struggle and with nowhere to turn you just have to absorb the impacts of difference and try to hold onto your integrity. It’s weird but after thirty years of creating art, society appears quite transparent to me, almost like an imposed structure and I feel there’s a bigger picture relating to our humanity that you experience with freedom.


I know that out of the countless art works I’ve made that there have been a few innovative and significant pieces, but they went unrecognised as if cloaked with invisibility and this made me realise that I couldn’t trust in my society. But I also realised that I couldn’t trust in myself or my own ability or judgment beyond self. So I had to find myself and my real values if I was to rescue myself from a life of complete disillusion. A life of chasing shadows in the hope that one day  my work would be understood was not an option. Because in chasing, I realised that I was distracted from the purpose of my art, distracted into the shallows of existence for the shallow rewards of vanity. And so I looked to find satisfaction in the singularity of my own existence and find happiness from my life of unbridled creativity.

Mysticles 1

I finally realised that whilst ever I was held under the spell and enchantment of my society I could never release myself from the overwhelming disappointment and feelings of failure and futility. Because I was held within a set of beliefs and assumed knowledge which very much define our status and I didn’t believe in them. This competitive society which crushes and bullies sensitive souls always appeared to be marching towards nowhere. But having the strength of character and belief to redefine the relevance of my own reality according to the human values I feel within, was my biggest test and ultimately my salvation which would release me from my state of despair. Whilst this sounds simple, it wasn’t for me because like with my own art it required a huge shift in my ways of seeing and a change of my value systems. I just needed to find a way to enjoy the fruits of my creativity even if their value is never recognised or acknowledged in any way by any other. In one sense I’d been driven into a corner and what may have appeared to be a nihilistic approach of accepting defeat was in fact an act of optimism and hope. A rebirth from a different perspective which is allowing my art to flourish once again.

Thanks for looking  and as always have a great day ❤

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