Talking the talk
I have always found it difficult to talk about my work, partly for reasons of being brought up not to bore other people about myself and partly because I find it genuinely difficult to express all the various reasons for my images being what they are. After all, if I'm honest, there is no grand master plan, no burning urge to express a philosophical ideal and certainly no manifesto.
What occasionally worries me is that perhaps I am not serious enough, that I lack gravitas, that my work is insubstantial and lacking in nourishing intellectualism.
I recently needed to write about my work in a professional context and decided to find out what other artists had to say about their methods and reasons. The result of this research was a total reinforcement of my inferiority complex about my terrible shallowness and my juvenile urge to paint pictures that amuse me and show my world as a thoroughly ridiculous place. If there is a serious component, it is really only to highlight the unreality of most things that sensible, grown up people hold dear - like going to war, financial instruments, and making sure poor people are kept where they belong.
With this in mind I set about writing a a piece that showed what a completely intellectual and intelligent being I really am. I talked about my Practise my methodology and my contextuality, the place of my work within a social structure and its dynamics. I was going on to talk about the metatexts (there are some but I don’t talk about them) in my images and the meanings of my mark making when Jude asked “Is that who you really are? Long pause. Good point. After all, when I’m face to face with someone the realistic chance of me being able to carry off a whole conversation in fluent jargonese is absolutely nil.
So the upshot of this is that I paint because I love the act of painting.
I paint because I love uncovering the surprises that lie hidden in the paint and canvas.
I paint because I love the thrill of chasing an idea and catching it and making it perform in my circus.
I paint because I love to see someone laugh, or look really puzzled, I haven’t made anyone cry yet, but I think my nephew’s wife came close at Christmas (in a good way I hasten to add)).
I paint because I like to see someone make up a story to go with a picture that I have made.
I paint because I can say things that hopefully no-one has said before.
I paint because I love colour and working with colour brings me joy.
I paint because I like to put ludicrous ideas out into the world.
I paint because I like to help somebody think about their world in a slightly different way.
I paint because perhaps one day someone will look at piece of my work and say “I’d like to do that”.
I paint because when I used to go to galleries and look at other people’s work, I thought “I’d like to do that!”.
Most of all, I paint because I have to.
These probably aren’t very good reasons for painting. I don’t know. But they are my reasons.