Pitting myself against myself is difficult, but necessary. I suffer as I accept the pain that is acknowledgment of the crutches I have used to feel secure. Security comes from knowledge, but knowledge is mostly based upon the past; such as Art History. Easy instincts can be delusional. Becoming oneself requires acceptance of delusion. Delusion is based upon experience. Trueness is found internally. Experience is external interaction with the people and the places one encounters. Places are more pure than people. People are a confusing mess of bias. Bias is quick acceptance of perception. Perception is not always true; what one sees is not always actual circumstance. Ask a magician.
The drawings I show today are from 7/12/2020. In making them I tried to dispel instinct. Instinct calls for me to fill the page with marks and forms. Marks and forms come easy to me. Hard for me is to hunker down into personal judgement. If done well, judgmental decisions make possible immediate perception of truth. This is the suffering part. Eating ice cream is easy; ice cream is a known delight, one that never fails to reward with pleasure. Easy pleasure is ingrained in humans by millennia of evolutionary success. This is bias. I am here now. Easy pleasure is not expression. Easy pleasure is falling into evolutionary instincts. Eating ice cream corrupts the human body. Ice cream is filled with high cholesterol animal fat and pure white sugar, both of which slowly degrade the body when chronically consumed. Chronic consumption, based on instinctual bias, is an obvious corruption of reality. Drug addicts will tell you this; sugar addicts will tell you this.
I am on a quest to find truth, truth free of bias. I want my art to be lastingly true, for me and for those who observe my art. Being internally authentic is not free of pain, particular the pain that is deprivation of easily available pure pleasure.
Searching for success is a long and arduous path. Each drawing, and painting, I make, are one step. Every step has some success, some failure. Seriously, this rooting out my true means of expression is uneasy; it so slow to reward. Yet, I feel rewarded with each step. This drawing, the one I show today, rewards me with a depth of feeling that indicates success; my path toward true expression is real. While writing of this journey I want to inform you of a project of mine: I have a Catalogue Raisonné forming on my website MEHRBACH.com; it is intended to become an all inclusive record of my art. This effort is informing me of my basic instincts; at the beginning of my artistic endeavors my instinct were clear and bright. See them here: Mehrbach Catalogue Raisonné. Below, as example, you can see my first painting, and its inspiration, a painting by the English Impressionist, Alfred Sisley.
If I follow this instinctually-driven road, step by step, my truth shall be revealed.
Here we are in 2019. It is the same. This is what I do. I don't know what else to do. My continuance is a result of my longevity. By living, and doing, I have acquired patience to outlast my frustration. I am confident. If I stick with this activity, this art-making, I will master it. Age has given me trust in my instincts.
Yesterday I listened to an interview of Philip Roth. To my ears, Roth's thoughts rang completely true. Roth said this, "[as artist] sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness are my closet friends." I fully agree. My actions, as artist, reflect my moral stake in everything. I have to get it right. I will not allow deception. I will plug away at art-making as long as I breathe.
Rarely do I post on the same day as the making. Today I found trust, trustworthy instincts were present; it was a dumpster diving day! I dove, despite feeling I did not know what was there to find. I am writing about the painting, Catch-22; it lived up to its name today. At first I didn't want to touch it, but if I was sane I had to jump, trusting I could fly well. Catch-22 is almost complete. This is welcome because I have many ideas; completing Catch-22 will allow me to start a new painting tomorrow. Reproducing today's state of Catch-22 is for tomorrow propitious. I see in this reproduction an important problem that needs fixing. They are the nearly vertical, slight diagonal lines in the extreme upper left and right; they need to be parallel to one another. When those two lines become parallel they will create a background wall between them; all other forms will sit forward of this "wall." It shall be splendid!
Today's drawing, made by trusted instincts, sings nicely too.
Doing this day after day has brought me trust in my instincts and in my intuition. I am going where I have never gone before. If I were not lost I would not be an explorer.
If I continue to have interest in faux 3-dimensional compositions, is there anything but representation? Everything 3D is a reference to visual reality. Or is it? Everything I think has a contradiction. I have accepted the fact that if I am to find my own path I must follow the instinctual. I don't know where this is going. However, I do believe in Joseph Campbell's idea: “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”
You would think this is the way it ought-to-be, all-of-the-time, but it ain't! I am having to grow myself into accepting that there are no pre-conceptions. I just need to show up. Showing up means something happens. No plans. No rigid ideas. It is the simplicity of now. If this is simple, why does it feel nerve-wracking? Well, I am admitting I do not know what I am doing. Not knowing is emotionally difficult. It is thinking on my feet, rather than knowing the course of the river. What is around the bend? I do not know. I do not care. I just show up. I just do. It is a surprise. It is self-teaching at a level far deeper than a book of words. There are no words. From whence it comes has not been tabulated.
Drawings from 06/14/2015, all are pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
This process is not easy, not at all, and... I wish it were easy! Wishing gets nothing, doing does. The more I do this the greater the force of my insight: I must move away from figuration. Figuration, for me, had become a dead end. I want to express using painterly purity: color, form, composition, surface energy, and light. If I remained fettered to the figure I would have concerned myself with thoughts of physiognomy and anatomy. This diversion had removed me from the direct and the simple, and the possibility of true expression. Authentication of my primary impetus, to find meaning through making art, had become impossible. It is no wonder that it took me so much time, and energy, to complete the last two paintings you can see on my website, MEHRBACH.com, i.e. the triptych and diptych (Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 and Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014). My time and energy were me seeking true expression. I was a true detective, but I missed vital clues. The struggle to get it right was the major clue, and I missed it! This dumbfounded miss, this failure, had told its own story. I ignored the clue, and went on and on and on. Is this a problem now? Was this a failure from which I learned nothing? No, no, no! I am a better man for it! Today I begin a new painting. Watch me crow!!!
Today's title is less reality than a query. It is very confusing to be an artist. It's like diving blind into a quarry pond, dark and deep with no sunshine to illuminate its depth. The safety of the dive is in question. Picasso said it well: "Painting is a blind man's profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen." I am becoming permeated with this reality. The only way forward is to give into knowledge deeper and smarter than anything I consciously know. I am allowing myself to be taken over by forces I do not understand. I am a prisoner of the internalization of all I have seen. Woe is me!
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