Thursday, 21 July 2016


Animate beings made up of words have words tattooed inside their skin, like the silk lining of a suit jacket or winter coat; then there are those whose cells diffuse colours in vivid hues in the style of a Jackson Pollack; and then those whose every pulsating organ is a musical note as if to emulate a great composer like Bach or Debussy. A smaller number secrete chemical names or mathematical equations through their nostrils and the Ah of their breath, while a select few have no inner inscription for their ability outwardly manifests: these are the athletes or dancers whose performances are fuelled by an interior of flames.
Of course, there's commingling amongst these beings. Like attracts like, opposites are drawn to one another, for all beings either want to be on the same wave or to have what they lack, to make themselves stronger or complement. Such pairings or interactions are often improbable and yet somehow they work, and though observers need a lot of convincing as to their authenticity, their output when together, either as a couple or in a professional collaboration, has a rare quality that mightn't have ever been achieved if they hadn't met or stayed apart.
The art, in whatever form it takes, is alive, is life itself, so that whomever crosses its path, by chance or on purpose, is instantly enamoured. In love with the finished result and the idea behind the idea: the inspiration or random thought that sparked the creative process, which in turn arouses further curiosity as to who is the artist and whom or what is their guide, for it's always presumed with works considered great, in their present time or at a later date, there is such a muse, a critic, a rational voice, a borrowed ear. Someone that provides encouragement and objectivity and works almost as tirelessly as the artist. A someone that can nurture and nourish, and be brutally honest when their opinion is sought, somehow able to frame their critique in a manner that's permissible; a someone who can contend with the artist's rages and despondencies, as well as their retreats and peaks when a piece is progressing well; and a someone that won't abuse the trust laid on them and can cope too with being the artist's crutch.
Those who people the art world in all their glorious shapes are not, as might be imagined, always natural exhibitionists, which is why a staff comes in handy to lean upon and can often prove as essential as a sound pair of walking boots: good support is needed for long, exhausting journeys where the destination always seem to lie beyond the next hill or the next bend in the road. Artists for all their supposed swagger are modest and, although by no means all tortured souls, are more often than not under considerable strain. Creation releases and burdens. At best, they are consumed, focussed yet able to engage; at worst, preoccupied, grappling with details and inattentive to everyone and everything else.
What goes on in an artist's brain is hard to explain because art, whilst tapping into the imagination, is a process of delayed gratification which often comes in dribbles, say in a single brush-stroke, a sentence, a note; sometimes it's delayed until the very end or decades after its making, although dissatisfaction too can also be true of these instances.
Art is never motionless, it has its own stream of consciousness, even when it's divorced from its maker. Words move like waves on the page, sculptures are fluid and life-like, paintings envelop you, music swells emotions, carries you with its mood and rhythm, dance and athletics bring forth a surge of endorphins that cannot be equalled by any other activity. Makers embody that energy, but onlookers are touched by it too, which means we all take part in the evolution of art.

Picture Credit: Rene Magritte, Title Unknown (ABC Gallery)