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THE ART OF SILENCE

January 21, 2019

Last year I began to feel overwhelmed with the psychological pressures of being an artist. I felt that the nature of my philosophical journey was in conflict with the values and systems of society. I knew that in my struggle to survive (on a material level) as an artist I’d been compromised,  to a point where I struggled to access clarity of thought and an understanding of art. My identity was compromised and I knew I was lost on a deeply personal level.

So about a year ago, I stopped making art and started labouring in the building trade, I needed time out to reflect on my thirty-three years of making art. After what had been a bruising life I didn’t know if I would ever return to making art or if I needed to make art again. You see, art had brought a lot of anguish and pain into my life, and was becoming a form of  unwanted masochism. However on reflection I do feel this was compounded by the poverty and struggle on a material level, poverty which had become hard to bear in the midst of an affluent society.

That was ten months ago and now I feel somewhat cleansed by my time in the wilderness. I feel more optimism now though my future as a practicing artist is still very much in the balance. I am currently making a few pieces to order but still cannot see a way forward or a direction which would satisfy my curiosity. Although I can feel a slight awakening in my thought patterns as I look to making my next steps towards some form of artistic expression.

I feel that being an artist is a privilege, it’s allowed me to awaken on many levels and to explore from the base line of my humanity. Exploring innate connections and meanings for existence through creative expression, finding ways to recognise humanity beyond the confines of society.  However this freedom of the creative mind is a blessing and a curse, because on a practical level there is often no place in society to share the spoils of this journey, beyond the parade of vanities. Though I do feel at times that the actual art I produce is like a by-product of a philosophical journey, objects without a secondary purpose, cast aside like stepping-stones in the wilderness. Art which does not need to exist or to be shared.

As I explored options open to me as an artist within my society I felt unable to identify a significant outlet or venue for an individual artist following their intuition. Yes I could show saleable work in the private galleries or I could tailor work for a more conceptual pallete. But can I make whatever I want as an open expression and share it (in a significant venue) without it being poured over by those who assume knowledge, understanding and responsibility. As I tried to plot a path I began to feel that the art world is like a prison in which artists are expected to perform within the confines of contemporary agreement and tradition. Furthermore I felt that the history of art is like a construct based around a western canon of thought, and that how we see art is dictated by the establishment. Art collected and imprisoned in grand mausoleums has no attraction to me either as an aspiration or an experience.

What I now feel, is that art is about a personal expression which has no boundaries. It is not about being good bad or indifferent, but just a form of communication and expression. I also realised that the whole patriarchal notion of the masterpiece is merely a reflection of societal hierarchy. You see art could be owned and valued and even the framing of work within institutions gratified the aspiration within society. The rich and famous had something to boast about, art became a commodity and artists were encouraged to become performers looking to dance to the tune of the elites. And it’s here where I feel that human expression is subverted as we the artists look to survive with one eye on the prize which success within society will give us.

Artists are leaders not chasers and yet I was aware that I was always chasing the carrot even though I felt I was true to my creative conviction. My issue was that art exists in society within the realms of the art world and its hierarchy. So when the disappointment of never catching the carrot finally hit me I realised that I was a prisoner to a system which I didn’t believe in. Like a hamster caught in a wheel, I became exhausted and fell out, finally waking up. My ambition had gone and my ego was bored so I looked at human expression from the perspective of the broken man, who I’d become. And I realised that art is anything and everything but more than anything it’s about a human freedom which can’t be caged or owned.

My process over the past few years has been one in which I deconstructed my whole belief structure in art and life and discovered a more personal truth. A truth about human expression beyond vanity and ego, a truth which exposed the raw nature of expression beyond a need for the ping of reassurance, acceptance and acknowledgement. And this is where I am right now, ready once again to start over as an artist, looking to express my feelings about the connection to an existence on the surface of a planet.

Thank you for looking and have a great day 🙂

 

3 Comments
  1. This really resonates with me. I wish you well in your future endeavours, and thank you for verbalising your realisations and sharing them. For creative thinkers, being made to dance to the beat of the “art world” and what is expected of us can be very stressful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing from the depths of your soul Eoghan. Good to hear you are well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janet Rutigliano permalink

    Eoghan! It’s so wonderful to hear from you with this incredible message of hope. I realize how trivial that sounds, but it’s as if seeing this post after a long absence/silence was the exact trigger I needed, as I too try to emerge from a seemingly endless assault of disappointments, pain, and financial instability. My journey is different from yours, but the theme is the same. I wish for you a joyous burst of creativity that is not bound by any of the artificial structures created by society. On another note, I hope you and your family are well. I miss interacting with you from afar, but I’m off of all social media at this point. I can’t tolerate it anymore, and with the current state of affairs in the US, the less I see, the better for my fragile sanity. 🙂

    Peace and best wishes for you in 2019! Janet R.

    Liked by 1 person

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