We All Know Good Art Follows the Rules*
*= denotes sarcasm
This week I haphazardly found a letter that Sol Lewitt wrote to Eva Hesse in 1965. I’d like to share an excerpt:
“Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more… whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world… You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!”
I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember, and to some small success. But I could feel that it wasn’t enough. It became living the same dream over, and over, and over again. I could have been content with painting until the end of my days, they were beautiful dreams, but I have felt the need to wake up. I knew that something more important, something truer was there for me to create.
So, I tossed my defunct methodology out the window and accepted the challenge again, the challenge that all artists must face and hopefully accept, time and time again; to question yourself, your work, your friends’ work, to question the entirety of art as you conceive it.
I pulled the fat from my ears, and re-read old artist statements claiming that I use every material I can, that my art knew no bounds and yet I had subconsciously built the boundaries around me. “I must be a “painter” and I must paint on this!” In my naivete, I was limiting myself via my process, my practices, my expectations. That is the antithesis to art! How blind I was! A prisoner of my own design!
Salvaging what was left, I honed in on what was vital to me as an artist; the acceptance of all materials, and the organic pattern that connects all things. By simplifying (making it as simple as possible, not simpler) the thoughts and notions I held about my own work, I have freed myself, and given myself the tools to create endlessly.
And so now I pledge to do more. More ties to the organic, more forms, more dares, more gut-following. I pledge to follow my own “weird humor.” I pledge to make my “own uncool.” I pledge to make my own world, from the deepest part of me. I pledge to DO. Experimentation leads to knowledge, frustration leads to enlightenment.
“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, … hair-splitting, nit-picking, … nose sticking… eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!”