29 May 2022

pondering peregrinations of a painter


a beginning begun sometime in 2018.

The thing about creation (in practically anything) is that for me, it is about opening up to the possibilities at hand because when I do that I have a fair chance to create something interesting, something beyond the moment. I say this because it's too easy for me to lock into an idea about a painting, or a motif, and because of that I find myself stuck within walls of indecision and unable to proceed freely. 

So it's funny that in grocery shops, surrounded by colourful items, freely associating with anything I seem to think about Painting. Is it all the shapes and sizes, is it the textures and materials, the cacophonous screams of bright colours, all of which beckon me (and everyone else) to dream and desire? And so yesterday afternoon, this very thought came to me right in front of the gourmet cheese section; 

‘Just as a work of art should naturally come from somewhere, it must also naturally, and organically go somewhere also, one's work needs coherence.’

I doubt it came to me just because I was looking at cheese. But then Carl Jung might say that just as cheese comes organically from animals, paintings too, have roots, and they come organically from other paintings, at least, this was my thought anyway... Phew...

So for me as a painter, not only do paintings come from other paintings, like in a series, but also from the vaults of one's visual past in everything one has ever seen outside in museums, books, and in other's studios. An artistic life is more or less one large department store full of colourful ideas and shapes no matter what floor one finds oneself on. 

But more specifically, I think I was interested in how organic ideas seem to grow from picture to picture over a prolonged series of work. In my own case these pictures made at twilight on the beach. It’s as if in a pictorial language, a personal dialect has evolved so much that each picture speaks and understands all the other ones. Perhaps it’s even like when at a large family reunion, where close and distance cousins meet up with each other, where elderly aunties and uncles smile, nodding at one another from across large ballrooms, where everyone looks for, and maybe finds similar and recognisable traits in other family members however distant.

So coming from somewhere is established by their past, but ‘going somewhere’ is more obscure. Does it mean that the past somehow indicates the future? In retrospect we can easily see this in most every painter’s life when it’s over. All the twists and turns of a painter’s pictorial peregrinations are visible suddenly like on a map for the first time. The artist himself/herself would not even remember all the decisions made to get from place to to the next, from one idea to another. 

But what interests me equally, is that a painter’s pathway into the future need not only be coherently connected to the past, but also to the future possibilities, as if there is a window already opened by the younger version of the painter much earlier on their career. Just as an acorn becomes an oak tree, the seed of the late work is already stored inside the young painter.

Here are some Van Gogh portraits to maybe ponder, just for fun.

Nuenen, Holland, November 1884

Nuenen, Holland, February 1885

Paris, early 1886

              Paris, Winter, 1886-87

Paris, Spring 1887

Paris, Summer 1887

Paris, Winter 1888

Paris, Winter December 1888

Saint Remy, September 1889

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