I've been feeling somewhat dissatisfied with my paintings as of late... I feel that I've become a bit too aware of how I approach my work, and it has become a static matter of me sitting down and painting what is effective. And by effective I mean something that I've noticed works in my previous paintings. I feel that if I don't do something about it, my work is going to be redundant and worst of all, predictable. And if there's one thing that I do NOT enjoy in painting is repetitiveness. I understand that the solidity of one's vision comes from uniformity, but too much work, solely solving the same problems over and over again goes from consistency to tedium.

Now, some may argue that repetition and constancy are essential to developing one's work, and it is only thru thorough exploration that one may understand the parameters in which one's work unfolds, but I feel (and I'm strictly speaking for myself), that while iteration may further understanding, it may also hinder risk-taking.

One thing I find myself repeating to my students, and ironically it is the one thing that a student of mine recently suggested to me, is that to develop one's work one should be honest. Now, when I say it to my student's I can understand why I say it and why whatever I saw in their work prompted to state such an ambiguous suggestion. But when someone recommended such a cryptic endeavor, because lets face it, it is horribly cryptic, I was caught off guard.

In a sense, I feel comfortable when I have to design a painting. Organizing all the formal elements that make up a picture is, I believe, not that problematic. But when someone thought that my work was not being sincere... well that kind of kicked me in the nuts... What the hell does it mean that an image lacks honesty??? Quite frankly, that's a really hard question to answer. I think I understand what it means when an image feels foreign... like it's borrowing from others experiences. And I guess, that is what's key - experiences. We can only paint what we know. We may be stimulated by other images, we may savior the fact that these other images may arouse or challenge us, but we have to accept the fact that we can only do what we know.

I think excitement sometimes takes a hold of us. Excitement that makes us believe that alien experiences are our own. But I think the answer, my answer, is to go back to basics, to reflect upon the simplest things, and more importantly, to solve them in a simple manner. Because in art, at least in my eyes, as complex as a painting may be, it's essence should be simple.

Honesty is horribly humbling.

(Glenn Ligon image btw...)


David Bernal said...

Me encanta esta historia y me recuerda una excelente adición ala idea y proceso de crear y contar historias/pinturas, estoy de acuerdo en que se hace en base a lo que se conoce, pero ese es el problema en si (Ironíco y por eso es tan "perfecto", tan humano!) esto es lo que lo hace deshonesto porque lo que conocemos o lo que somos no es lo que somos o queremos decir o ser, esa es nuestra humanidad y una que "naturalmente" no queremos aceptar (doh! porque - y esta es probablemente la historia mas honesta que he encontrado - el aceptar quienes somos, el conocernos a si mismo, es lo que mas da miedo, eso y cambiar) por eso he aprendido que no se trata de no solo hacer en base a lo que conocemos/somos sino en base a lo que nos gusta (por eso el valor de experiencias alienigenas, no como meta sino como guía y me encanta que usara la palabra alienigena porque se trata de evolucion, hahaha!) o creemos/queremos sea. Esto ultimo es honesto, si lo hacemos, y he ahí la belleza del arte como un catalizador, un agente de cambio. Esto requiere que yo deje de ser yo, que salga de mi burbuja, que pruebe algo nuevo (y no me refiero a dentro del pintar o contar historias, sino y esa es la amgia del arte, que estas me forzan a cambiar lo que conozco, lo que soy) tomar el siguiente paso, lo que hace que deje de ser aburrido. Esta es la diferencia entre hacer algo y decir algo, las dos pueden ser honestas (las dos pueden ser excelentes pinturas), pero una es aburrida/cobarde por que es algo que conozco, mientras que la otra es algo que es consecuencia de lo que conozco (wisdom in action, i.e. evolution), me forza a cuestionarme, a crecer. Lo que lo une con el final, con respecto a simplicity, porque el salir de la burbuja he descubierto no lleva a otra diferente, sino a ver la inicial de una nueva forma, una mas simple. (Como John Madea dice, simplicity and complexity are just a point of view and a matter of context) Por eso creo que es imposible crear en base a solo lo que se conoce, no nos conocemos, pero el aceptar eso es lo que logra que si nos conozcamos.
Then honesty is beautifully humbling! Its the heroes journey, imho, que es lo que lo hace chistoso...o triste que seamos tan unevolved? hahaha! Otro juego de pov.

David Bernal said...

Esto tambien me receurda esto, sumando la parte de profesores/estudiantes:

David Bernal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Serrett said...

Thanks for sharing your struggles, seems to be a lot of that going on lately. I keep telling myself that it is because I am reaching further, a new level or need in my art.
Or it could just be those age old artist frustrations -anyway - what does not kill us makes us stronger.

Push on...

Nicolás Uribe said...

Thanks Jim. Although I feel both the struggling and frustration are not new... they can't be new... I think a painter has to come to terms with the constant questioning. I also see it as a sign that we are in perpetual interrogating. Better to be conscious of our ever-changing state rather than a false sense of comfort.

alberto said...

I'be been feeling that way about my work lately too and that's exactly what I did, went back to basics as well as some reflection. Felt stuck, repetitive and unclear of my intentions.
You're whole post reflects exactly where I was a few weeks ago.
Like you said, it's not new. It's not the first and it won't be the last time. What's important is to keep going.
This is truly how we grow was artist.
Good luck!

Orduz said...

Hey Nicolas , como siempre entrar al blog resulta en alivio, uno no se siente despues de todo tan solo. leerlo es enriquecedor... Nos vemos en cuerpo y pintura, y en pintura como asistonto. ahi le dejo algo que he estado pensando tambien un poco impulsado por este escrtito.