One of the things rarely mentioned to me in my so far very short artistic life is forgiveness. In the creation of a human image, or a creation of our being forgiveness is at the core. The concept alone acts as a catalyst for the religions and dogmas that have dominated the cultural landscape of humans for generations, and there is virtually no form of media or narrative that doesn't speak about the importance of forgiveness. Likewise it seems that forgiveness is an important concept for the creation of art and works.
If a work starts as an idea and then forms around it, if we spend our time cultivating that idea then we also have to incorporate a degree of fault in that idea. The pursuit of perfection in idea drives us down a path of research and intellectual discovery, however if perfection itself becomes the end goal, and not the perfection of the idea, then the work is warped to be another work about work. I’m against work about work, because work is not an inherent quality of the human race. The recent drive to fetish work is an example of economic and political policy driven by a classicist desire to incorporate work into the idea of a human existence. The artist I grew up around have a strange desire for talking about all the work they do, an image that incorporates the complexity of “process” and work is all the rage.
But is there anything complex about process? Sure the turning of gears and the complexity of a self-driving car are interesting pieces, and they do talk to some degree about the complex nature of technology and its relation to improving and destroying the human condition, but these things are not necessarily complex, except to those that have never engaged in this kind of work. From a construction workers point of a view the building of complex concrete buildings is not art but rather a daily task that more often than not they would kill to rid themselves of.
My father busted his back in the fields laying pipe when he was younger, digging and plumbing, building and nailing. His parents and grandparents were cotton farmers out in west Texas. Out in the Texas heat picking crops. To my father, work is a badge of honor, however it is one that he wants to rid himself at some point. He worked (along with my mother) in an attempt to create a life for his sons in which that sort of hard work isn't necessary. I mention this because the appreciation (or fetishism) of work in the current culture comes from a nostalgic looking of what was.
I don’t work as hard as my father. I don’t do the type of back breaking labor he did in his youth and I won’t have to. Likewise I don’t do the type of work that the construction worker who currently sits on a crane a few feet above my head does. And there is something inherently confusing about fetishizing that type of work from a comfy chair and air conditioned building. Work about work is that sort of idea. To go to a gallery to see process work seems insane, or to see work about working. Why not simply walk into the gallery and view the bricks and the piping, the architectural drawings and the lumber used to hold the building. How about the graceful sweeping of the custodial staff and the conversations of their life they have at low hours of the night?
Forgiveness comes to mind now as a more important and interesting tool to use. (and forgive me if you disagree (and forgive me for that joke) ) the beauty of painting is the natural ability for forgiveness, the fluidity of the medium (in combination with drawing) allows for plenty of time of self-reflection. The painting is not done till it is decided to be done, it exist in several states until a realization is made. With painting (at-least to me) forgiveness is of primary importance. It is interesting to see the failing of painting globally that seems to continually get talked about. The removing of walls to hang paintings and the moving towards installation, performance, and object creation. Is this a result of the work fetish? Where all art is being drawn down a narrow path of art objectivity? What comes to mind now is the destruction of object, but done in real time it becomes a performance, done over time it becomes a series, the natural state of decay that should exist with objects has been eliminated as simply a point of poor craftsmanship or conceptual message.
Maybe the question of forgiveness becomes from a nostalgic view as well. Maybe we can only forgive ourselves and others once forgiveness has already been given, and the saying of that word is not an action but rather a decision to accept what already exist. This would seem to fall in line with painting and my perception of forgiveness being involved with it. Do I really forgive the marks I make accidentally? Or do I make them purposely and then later accept them?
What is inherent to me in either of these scenarios is that the appreciation of the work (or process) involved in creation of the work is only interesting after all the other interest have been examined, and even in the writing of the post the primary entrance to it is not how I have typed or constructed but rather the ideas presented. And of course the ideas are strengthened by form (however bad) but at what point does form take over? There are pieces of great literature as well that deal with this issue, whose context and idea is of the form of writing. And these are needed as a way of pushing the art form to a new place. But if we never push to a new place then what is the point in pushing in the first place?
I've been wondering if art will make a move back to illustrative, among my peers drawing and painting seem to be gaining popularity, fun and seriousness mixed together fiction seems to be important, but also there seems to be a push back to representational work. A push to reexamine how we can strengthen representational work and use it in context with the new appreciation for form to create something new and exciting.
For me the first step in creating something new and exciting is that initial forgiveness. The ability to not seek perfection but to seek perfection of. The failing is just as important as the success of a piece in the cultural creation of a new. I begin to see work and its creation in religious terms. The idea of alpha and omega comes to me in the creation of all my work. Every work is both the beginning and the end of an idea, a thought that progresses through time and builds, I think of them as points of talk in a larger conversation. And I have no desire for my work to be the defining thought in the conversation but rather a part of the whole.