[ 3 min read ]
Picasso was fighting with his wife Olga. A particular period when he was with her was the worst time of his life, he said. And he showed it in his art.
That’s what art is. A representation of the reality and an attempt at connecting the dots, understanding the forces that are omnipresent and ever-present.
Artists always portray themselves in their art. They become naked. It’s how they display their emotions (often force negative emotions out of their system) I guess, but it’s also their dialog with the universe.
They ask questions which will never be answered. They show their emotions (anger, joy, anxiety, fear, excitement, sadness). They hope those will be heard, but of course the universe doesn’t give a damn.
So the best way for an artist to cope with this lack of response I guess is when an artist builds a convenient narrative in her head (something all people do all the time). According to this narrative the mere fact that the work has been created by itself suffices. By itself it means she has been heard. Regardless of whether or not she got any response from the universe, and whether or not anybody apart from her saw it, or whether or not anybody apart from her cares. It becomes a dialog with oneself.
The artist became the universe or the universe became the artist. And since, according to this narrative, she has been heard, whether or not other people care ceases to matter.
Other artists, those who haven’t built this convenient narrative in their heads, must wait until there is someone who will see the work and care enough to comment on it. Of course, it would be perfect if this person was a fan of her work, told her how much her work touched him or her, or that he or she sees beauty in it, or that he or she understands where she’s coming from, but sometimes the only response, at least initially, will be a negative one — of a hater or an art critic. But it’s something, meaning she has been heard. And if she is patient enough she will get her first fan too.
I guess the greatest tragedy of an artist who hasn’t built this convenient narrative in her head is when nobody cares (nobody comments on it), which can happen to all artists at the beginning of their artistic journey. They yell but their cries aren’t even heard.
But when people comment on the art, they also start to judge it. They start to have expectations. They demand certain kind of art, or, what they call, a certain quality of art. And this will inevitably lead to the great suffering of an artist, because she knows that art serves a different purpose, that it is a tool which main purpose is to serve her as a means of communication through which she communicates her experiences and emotions, everyday struggles and challenges, pleasure, pain, excitement, anxiety, surprise, disappointment to the universe, and through which she is constantly trying to gain a better understanding of the world around her.
And when she starts to cater to the needs and expectations of the public (instead of treating art the way she used to), to her art loses its main component and she is deprived of the benefits which art used to give her.
That’s also a moment when making art becomes impossible. They know that it no longer is art. They do something which pretends to be art (in order to please others), but is not. That’s when artists are most likely to suffer from depression. Their dialog with the universe they so cherished is over.
So I guess, the sooner an artist creates this convenient narrative in her head (when the outside world’s response is not needed or doesn’t matter) the better. She can create without obsessing about being heard by others or what the response will be.