|Chinese Dreamscape, Stage 2|
Several current artists and I have had a discussion on this and usually I lose.
My argument is that all art is relevant but that doesn't mean that it is great. The attempt of art is to express in the mind of the artist what he sees or feels. What simply is.
Most art is derivative, based on something that has been done before but then, like Grandma Moses, does that mean it is not important? Try to buy a Grandma Moses painting today. You won't believe the cost. Yet, she is an American primitive, possibly one of the finest in the 20th century. Or, at least one of the richest when she died at 106.
My CHINESE LANDSCAPE is an image given to me by a close Chinese friend that has both many wonderful and terrifying memories for him...thoughts I didn't know when I received it. Studying the photo I was struck by the dreamscape of the scene. It was something that I wanted to do, no NEEDED to do. It marked in many ways an attempt to change directions, to create an ephemeral scene that I had never created before.
As I started this project he encouraged me but then when it reached the point shown here, he told me the nightmares this very scene caused. He was thrown from the bridge by the Revolutionary Guards because of his imprisoned father, a Communist General. A local fisherman saved him at the age of 4. I almost cried when he told me this. Yet, he encourages me to complete this scene.
So again I ask, what is art? Why does the image that moves you so, the very insistent and demanding image that means so much to you fall flat on others? What is the secret ingredient that causes others to embrace you as a "great" artist yet at the same time dismisses others as irrelevant? Where does the inner compulsion to create come from? Does any and everything we create qualify as art? There are many feelings, opinions about this. As I struggle with this scene, one of the most demanding I have ever done, I am again brought to this eternal question. What is art, Who creates it? Why do we create it? What does it mean? Is it relevant?
I have suffered lately from this this very dilemma. Why does it resonate with me and not with others? Should I care? Does anyone care? None of my paintings has sold. It is almost like being shunned while the craft items, birdhouses mostly, sell!
In case you haven't realized it, being an artist is both heaven and hell.