It’s only day 2 and I’m feeling a certain unwillingness to engage with this! It doesn’t seem as interesting an idea anymore; however, I am setting my sights low in order to achieve something.
I will start with a very short essay (in the sense of ‘a weighing of ideas’).
Feelings of success or failure are obviously emotions, but also they are concepts rather than facts. When a friend and I did our trip round Open Studios this year we visited one lady who had such confidence in the worth of her art that she had opened an actual real-life (I say that as an expression of surprise that her dream ever made it into real life) gallery in a pretty Norfolk village, which was full of her linocuts and paintings. There was something a little bit GCSE O-Level portfolio about it all, with many repetitions on a simple theme with first cuts being printed, then a new line and a new colour added for a second series of prints, which she wanted to explain in great detail. My friend was encouraged to put her email address in the visitor’s book. As we walked away I said I was glad she hadn’t asked me to – I didn’t want to tell her to her face that I wasn’t interested. My friend confessed that she had made a deliberate mistake in what she wrote. I will be intrigued to see if her dream of a viable gallery pays off.
I know it is all subjective. People who hate Tracey Emin probably feel like that, whereas I love her, including the ridiculous self-importance; good on you, Tracey, I want to say. Her intimacy moves me, like being touched by a lightening bolt – this emotional response is from the tent, and the bed. I’m not sure about her strange little drawings but I like her neon signs. But because she has reached me with something, I accept her completely.
I whisper to my past, do I have another choice: at http://www.artnet.com/artwork_images_651_794072_tracey-emin.jpg
Whereas my mystery lady with her gallery just made me think: poor deluded fool.
Tracey’s not the best comparison – maybe I should compare this lady to Mark Rothko, with his repetitious use of colours and shapes. He described his work as a kind of drama – very theatrical and definitely emotive. I love his work, especially the massive scale of it. I’m pretty sure that I don’t admire his work just because it is in the Tate, because I have been ‘suckered in’ by a collective sheep-like acceptance of someone else’s idea of Great Art. But there are definitely other people who think ‘that’s just a big blob of colour; I could do that’ and don’t feel anything. And he was very repetitive. You can call it a struggle to get something perfect, which for an artist is impossible, or you can call it a lack of imagination to create something different. What did Vincent call it, when he was painting yet another vase of sunflowers?
Red on Maroon, 1959 at http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T01/T01165_8.jpg
I am pretty much stumped as to why the mystery lady (I call her that because I have deliberately not remembered her name or even the location of her gallery) should annoy me as much as she does. Is it the case that if you have that level of belief in yourself, or you feel that sense of compulsion to create something, you can convince both yourself and others that something meaningful is taking place? Or does it not matter – is it just the doing that is the important part? In which case, why does art get sold?
I think she connects to my sense of annoyance throughout my entire life with people who are average in their abilities and imagination, but somehow have reached a more exalted status. There are loads of them in pretty much any walk of life and perhaps I felt it strongly in the past as an office support to some particularly incompetent men, but maybe that chip on my shoulder should have rubbed away by now.
I’m becoming more aware of a truth: what I feel about other people reflects my sense of self. And that can leave me in an uncomfortable place.