I recently stumbled across a blog post, a derogatory sound bite about abstract art, the artists, dealers and collectors of abstract works – a post by none other than an artist. It was difficult to tell whether the post was in support of, or mocking the viewpoint – I would like to think it was an ironic gesture, although personally I wouldn’t have given it the privilege of space. I thought about commenting, and decided against it – I mean, why bother, who cares? I decided no – everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, even if it is the thinking of a blundering philistine asshole.
So what’s this about? Provocative statements have power, even if that power turns out to have an opposite and unexpected galvanizing effect. I’ve pondered my compulsion to paint for well over a decade – I even took an undergraduate course in philosophy of art to discover the meaning of art (I really did, what a riot). The main thing I discovered while reading is that mental masturbation is fine for a while, even fun in a kind of smug self-satisfying pseudo-intellectual way, but eventually the art of philosophizing about art and its mental gymnastics turn out empty and leaves one feeling pretty sore – I realized the answer wasn’t to be found in a book.
A profound spiritual experience is easily mocked if never having experienced it for oneself, and there in lies the essence of art, abstract or otherwise – the power to be moved so profoundly by simply witnessing an aesthetic creation by another human being, for a mere moment in time – it is possible, because it happened to me. The first time I saw a Mark Rothko painting, the earth quaked – this was a seismic shift, and one that overturned my perspective on painting thereafter. Anyone who has seen the luminous moment in the movie Mona Lisa Smile when Miss Watson uncovers the mural-sized Jackson Pollock to her Wellesleyian undergrads knows what I’m talking about – it’s a moment, and impossible to either quantify or qualify.
When one is moved, so brilliantly, and so terribly, that one’s heart spills out like an upturned bottle of milk all over the floor, then surely we have to concede that there has been an occurrence. Of course the nature of the occurrence is unfathomable, it is a mystical experience, which is why the question What Is The Meaning Of Art? can only be asked by those who have not yet personally experienced art to its full potential – the experience is an experience, not an essay. As an artist, as an abstract artist, I live for this occurrence, I paint for this occurrence, and the potential for it to occur within others.
Amazing what happens when provoked by a phucking phili.