I have been away from the studio. I was attending serious business. I visited museums. I had a dream in which I dialogued with Picasso. I contemplated. I retreated from Making-Art. I contemplated Making-Art. My many recent exhibitions left me confused. "What am I doing?" and "Why am I doing it?"
The art-making I seek requires skill and talent. Today's contemporary art scene often appears devoid of skill. That said, there is a talent there, one that causes public and private interest and engagement. We live in a world where celebratory personalities head countries and engage many followers. Upon inspection, some of these leaders are devoid of the required skill and knowledge to do their jobs well. However, there is talent there, a talent that causes public discourse and public interest. That is the definition of Artist. This illustrates my personal quandary. My confusion is comprehensible. I received a lot of positive feedback from artists, some gallery and museum directors expressed appreciation of my art. I did not get a lot of sales. I take lack of sales as lack of engagement. My viewers did not choose to put my art on their walls. Desire speaks of engagement. I want espousal; I want my viewers to want my art. If they do not want it they must not need it. I have failed if my viewers don't need my art, if they don't need to buy it, or own it. I feel I did not fully engage my viewers. This saddens me. I want more. I want my relationship with my viewers to be consummated!
My skill is extremely high. I can do anything on paper (or canvas) that I can imagine. Perhaps I have restricted my imagination to knowledge already acquired. I must engage my skill with greater abandon, with ambition to disclose more deeply than that which I intellectually comprehend. I am not who I think I am; I am more. The only way to know oneself is to uncover oneself. I must walk naked into the world. People love to look at naked people. They are unable to NOT look. Is this the gap I have been unable to fill between my viewers and I? I need to take off all of my clothes.
Referring to popular culture, this is what I see, We have a president of the United States who is more reality TV star than successful statesman or successful business person. This man obtained his lofty position by appearing to be upfront and personal (despite the many questions surrounding his truthfulness). He has engaged our entire population despite his lack of skill for his current office. That is his talent. It is talent that may serve me well as artist. I want to engage. I want people to pay attention to my art. There are NO limits to what I can do because I have the necessary skill to do it. My failure to fully engage my viewers is my lack of a certain kind of talent. One can see the talent I am missing in our current president, also it is present in reality TV stars, in pop music artists, and in show business celebrities. The artist Andy Warhol was more a successful celebrity than a skillful artist. This explains a talent I must nurture in order to fully engage my viewers. My extreme artistic skill is squandered if I do not have the talent to engage my viewers.
I dreamed I was with Picasso in his studio. Picasso threw me out. Picasso silently waved goodbye to me. I reluctantly gave in; I said goodbye. I walked away from one of my great educators. I do not need mentors any longer. I must rely solely on myself. It is no longer about what I know; it is about what I do not know, what I need to discover.
Yesterday's drawing is much different from the one in this blog's previous post. There is a two-week gap in time between these two drawings. I have begun to take steps without knowing where I am stepping. I step in confidence without knowing where the next step will lead. That is a good thing.
I have often wondered, "Why did I reject academia?" I chose not to teach art. This was, and is, a BIG risk. I have not been employed in doing the thing that is my career. Instead, I live modestly, with no BIG reward for living well looming in my future. The manner I approach art-making reveals the story of my choice. I am going it alone; I have rejected the academic. This kind of career is not a straight line — I am not making academic work in result or in process. I am a seeker of self-truth based upon the history of self-truth seekers, from Van Gogh to Cézanne to Matisse to Giacometti. The painting, Seriously?, exhibits this non-academic searching and seeking. It is wandering, state after state, to nothing anyone else could produce but me.
I have been playing for a long time. There is this need in me to make my art more emotive, less cerebral. Cerebral comes across as academic. Academic comes across as pleasing but dull. Dull is never good enough. Dull does not last. I want my art to have lasting power. Without lasting power why do it?
Yesterday's drawings are me lashing out at my own academicism. I know too much to be dull. I know too much to rest comfortably with repeats of my knowledge. I do not do simple repetition. My intellect is relentless with curiosity. I consistently test my knowledge by questioning all I have done. This is the endlessness I am.
There is a lot of art being made today that is plain vanilla. It is what is expected. Perhaps it has always been this way. The vast majority of artists have always repeated that which is given them. They follow the present day cultural norm. In many cases it is good art. It exudes the dictums of well known principles. Not every person can do this. It takes talent. Thus is the separation of the talented academic from the common artist. I am hoping I am not simply an academically talented artist. I am hoping I am the artist who sees the making of pictures as an experiment in wonder. Thus appears the risks I took yesterday. I am aiming at substance discovered, not substance known. I believe the painting 2017 No.9 is made as discovery. I have never seen anything like it before. It speaks truth to me. That is its importance.
Yesterday's drawing also surprises me. Even though it feels mostly made from formula. There are five standing objects. All on solid ground: normal space, punctuated by forms. In spite of this normalcy, these forms have interesting qualities. Each is well drawn. The viewer perceives all sides of them, even the surfaces that are in deep shadow, This is an academic success! It proves there is validity in art made mundanely. I may have written disparagingly of this kind of art in the first paragraph of today's post, but here is a drawing saying OK.
To read my profile go to MEHRBACH.com.
At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.