Over a lovely Troyville hotel lunch (one of my favourite spots whilst I lived in Johannesburg) with some fellow artists ,and art collectors, I realised exactly what it is that keeps me creating and being enthusiastic about art and art practice.
The artists that joined me for lunch (12-30 years my peers) seem to have politics and socio economic issues as the underlying concern fuelling most of their art practices.
When speaking to one of these artists -a widely travelled and exhibited individual- he mentioned a fellow female artist he befriended years ago. He told me about a painting she made of her and her mother naked on a rooftop. He asked this friend why she created the artwork. Part of her reply stated that the most challenging part of the artwork to her, was being faced with the awkwardness of her and her mother being naked together, posing for the reference from which the painting was made.
This in particular struck me, and made me think of what Ryan Schulz said in an interview I read about his painting, a while ago.
“I don’t do paintings of pretty girls smiling with flowers in their hair. I rather do a pianting that delves into the psyche of the individual that literally and figuratively raises people up. When I painted Jakub, lying on a carpet, by painting him, he’s raised up on a wall where you have to look up at him. His eyes literally looking down on you. That totally changes the context.”
On first seeing an image Schulz’s painting (before reading it).. One could almost t(if you not careful) mistake the painting for being a mere photographic imitation of reality – a copy of a copy of a moment. Yet on closer investigation, one can explain why you ‘feel’ something when you look at the image…
The parallel Schulz draws in his statement above, between the physical and conceptual, literal and figurative explains what fills this conceptual void.
The fact that the physical presence of what the artist creates and how this is integral to the concept, is so beautifully pointed out by Schulz. I would go as far as saying that he highlights that even the space around what is created should be considered when creating an artwork. One cannot exist without the other..
The one thing whether physical or conceptual influence the next..
A great artwork considers it all (this symbiotic relationship between literal and figurative), even beyond these borders.
It is those little things that intrigues me..that keeps me appreciating, creating and exploring art and art practice.
The way subject matter can ‘stare’ back at you, or talk to you during the creation of art. An array of emotions such as ‘awkward’ or ‘uncomfortable’, bought on and experienced by the creator or viewer by the physical or conceptual.
This is what keeps me creating!
These little things that fill this conceptual void.