Read a good article about Writer’s block HERE!
Just a short rant here.
The literary and painting traditions have long been based upon following trends, styles and forms of expression in each successive epoch, and many art academies and literature arts schools are still recommending that students study and mimic famous artists and writers in order to better understand painting and writing. Eventually one is expected to develop one’s own signature style. But how many times removed from the original style is acceptable today? Eg. in the spirit of, in the style of, or a downright copy of another famous artist’s style? I have been copied grossly, two times that I know of. I was annoyed to begin with but soon afterwards I took it as a compliment. However, I do get impatient with authors and painters that “borrow” too much from established artists. Visual artists that come to mind include Rothko, Warhol, Pollock, Nevelson, etc. Authors get a bit more leeway (unless they grossly copy word for word, etc.). Research in regards to fictional works can be tricky, as seen by plagiarism allegations experienced by Michel Houellebecq in his prize-winning novel “La Carte et le Territoire”. With literature I am more offended by the still-taught (so-called) “rules of writing” which can subjugate young writers to generic form.
I understand that literature and painting build on historical traditions of style and technique, and that in this day and age there seems to be almost nothing left that is new and original, and also that copyright is under constant discussion in our global and digitalised world of images and texts that quickly become communal property — but damn!!! … Is the future of art and literature really so bleak that everything new is bound to have been made before? I personally stay away from reading novels when I am working on or planning a new novel, and I do not go to art exhibitions that might influence my work-in-progress. I am not afraid of being accused of copyright infringement, but I do enjoy the freedom of being unencumbered in my own active artistic development processes. Yes, I do find inspiration in techniques and philosophies promoted and used by dead and living artists. But I try not to plagiarise or copy directly. Part of the problem today is that everyone has been influenced by something or someone else artistically, whether it be images, archetypes, popular phrases or the like. The real issue is perhaps how things are used and put together in a larger oeuvre-defining context. What can I say? It’s complicated.
Here are a few of my paintings that are “inspired” by the philosophies of art movements I admire greatly (the first two by Monochromatic Minimalism, the third by Malevich (suprematism), and the fourth is a gut reaction to “Rothko-itis”:
Who knows? Perhaps another artist (famous, or not) has already made these paintings without my knowledge? Perhaps I have been “tainted” or “influenced” subliminally by something I have seen on the internet (I do not watch television). I dunno. But my artistic principles and intent are clear.
But now let us consider “the rules”:
This question has begun to arise more and more, I see. A painting-style “knock-off” is no more satisfying than a Gucci handbag knock-off. The “lie” is not worth carrying around.
World society is in sore need of more creativity, and the influx of aspiring artists, authors, musicians, filmmakers etc. with both professional and hobby aspirations is a good thing. Right?!! Of course it is, but …
What do we do with all that art, with all the books that are discarded or never sold, with libraries and bookstores that no longer have physical shelves to accommodate old and new books, with old lp’s, cassette tapes and cd’s? And shouldn’t art also sometimes make a statement about the overabundance and waste that characterises today’s world society, and the challenges it presents in terms of waste management, pollution, and the driving down of prices and the value of new art, writing and music? Sure, great for the consumers that prices are ridiculously low now for music, books, art etc., but surely that only breeds more and more “fast art” and copies being pumped out in order to increase income. And then, of course, more waste.
The disposable art movement is not dead, even though it is not as “trendy” as it was several years ago. Disposable art, and art that incorporates disposable, used and found objects has been around for awhile. One famous example is Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (1917), a urinal (signed R. Mutt). READ HERE!
Today, Cheeming Boey’s disposable coffee cup art is all the rage: READ HERE!
Even so, many are skeptical to disposable art and to art which has no real lasting commercial value. Some want art that is “permanent” and that can be sold later at a huge profit, and others have aesthetic objections. Here is an article by Andrew O’Hagan entitled “Losing patience with disposable art”.
And then there is the work of fine art photographer Jerry Takigawa, who uses disposed objects in his exhibitions to contemplate our disposable society: SEE HERE!
Not all art needs to be “high art”, and certainly not all disposable art or found object art. Not all art needs to last a hundred years or more, either. It is my philosophy that art should eventually be recirculated, moved around in our living and working environments, sold, loaned out, exchanged for new works that help to enrich and enliven ourselves and our environments in new ways etc. That headset requires a different approach to the “value and function” of art.
The comments of some who dislike such art, eg. “I could have done that.” Or “My child could have done that!” are as “disposable” as the art itself. The point being that they did not do it, they did not come up with the idea or execute it. Art is largely conceptual. If an artwork helps you to question the value and function of art, life or the state of the world, then it is highly successful.
I have made artworks involving painted pieces of concrete, painted pieces of driftwood, plastic, weather-worn discarded pieces of styrofoam, and more. Here are a few of my own disposable art pieces / pieces made from disposed of and found objects:
(photography of found semi-deflated balloons hanging on tree.)
The novice struggles to make pretty feet dance in the wind, while the haiku of the master yawn and stretch toward infinity … like a century-old bonsai.
- Adam Donaldson Powell
Painting and photo by Adam Donaldson Powell
Adam Donaldson Powell’s preface to the haiku collection “Flying Pope”, by Ban’ya Natsuishi:
A MODERN MASTER OF HAIKU PAINTS THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE.
A gong sounds somewhere in the distance, and in the silence that ensues the reverberations of the collective conscience precipitate a collage of impressions that are at once familiar, and yet far beyond the accepted structures of perception. In this impressive collection of contemporary haiku, Ban’ya Natsuishi expertly challenges and coaxes the reader to join him in a flight of fancy – in and out of reality and illusion – not so unlike the great surrealist Salvador Dali. Both the reader and the flying pope take to the air, suspended above the Earth like an out-of-body experience … observing from afar, and yet experiencing the dream-like state as if it were totally real – as a sort of déjà vu recollection of the fringes between zazen and newspaper headlines … or perhaps the CNN rolling news texts, floating across the bottom of the television screen. While it may be tempting to point out Natsuishi as l’Enfant terrible of contemporary haiku writing, his impudence is not intended to shock. It is, in fact, this sense of detachment in the author that binds together the childlike, the serious, the sarcastic, the humorous and the reflective – resulting in a splattering of surrealistic images that pose far more questions to the reader than give blatant commentary. Because of the masterly free flying construction, the reader is just as easily won over to the haiku of Ban’ya Natsuishi as he/she might be to adventuresome comic books and animated films.
True enough, there is much observation embedded in these pearls of writing: sparkling semi-precious jewels singing, dancing, and jabbering now and then about such themes as politics, haiku writing without seasonal references, the loneliness of papal responsibility, and the burden of conscience. However, the real artistry of this work is perhaps the succession of painterly haiku frescoes, all variations on the same theme: the illusion of consciousness.
Do read this book several times – forward and backwards, and even starting in the middle and proceeding in any direction … sometimes dancing back and forth. There are many hidden levels within the poems, the silent connections in between the poems and in the work as a whole.
- Adam Donaldson Powell, 2008 (based upon the English version of “Flying Pope”). “Flying Pope” is published by Cyberwit.net.
アダム・ドナルドソン・パウエル 2008年 (英語版『空飛ぶ法王』に準拠)
What do you want to do when you grow up?
– I want to be famous.
Okay, but what will you be famous for?
– I dunno. Does it matter, really? I just want to be admired,
and to live forever.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it?!! Actually, the “fame bug” has bitten many of us. Some of us are impatient to “make it” in terms of being recognised or becoming “household names”, making 100% of our salaries from our art, music or writing, formidable wealth, coveted awards and prizes, accomplishments such as dozens of published books, digital music recordings, art exhibitions at famous galleries and museums, etc. — while we are still alive (and hopefully before we are forty-something); and others smugly console ourselves with thinking that we are “just ahead of our time”, and wait for the world to catch up to us (after all, being recognised as once “misunderstood and unappreciated geniuses” in the annals of history is no mere door prize).
But what are the effects of the desire to become famous on artists, and their work? On the way we see the world? Upon our personalities, our tolerances of humanity? And is anyone ever really “ahead of his/her time”? Does fame in our own lifetimes make us more exciting artists, or can it lead to laziness and loss of focus?
Jean Cocteau: “The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.”
That quote is priceless. Is it not passionate intoxication with the art itself that spurs us on to new ways of thinking and expressing ourselves, and often in adversity, non-acceptance, poverty? And is it not more satisfying to create a new genre or style, than to compete with others in already prescribed ways of artistic expression and form? Perhaps, for some of us … but certainly not for all. Poverty, non-acceptance and adversity are not “romantic”, and they sometimes get in the way of our creative drive and intuition. That is a lonely route to travel; and although we may sincerely believe that we have genius “ahead of our time” we can never be certain that we will – in fact – be judged positively decades or centuries after death.
Therefore, I ignore the romanticism of the misunderstood and starving artist/poet, as well as contemporary trends in art and the “fame bug”. I prefer to listen to my critics, test out their wishes for my art and literature in private, throw out what I cannot use … and continue to explore. More than one critic has been advised to write his/her own book or paint his/her own painting in just the way that they wish I would have done.
I have no “niche”, and I do not wish to be pigeon-holed or recognised as “this, that or the other” artistically (at least not before the history books have to struggle with categorising me — long after my death). I may expound philosophical rants from time to time, but just as my art and literature are not always necessarily direct reflections of my opinions, experiences or politics, they are a part of me on some level — if none other than individual consciousness vs. collective consciousness, and are thus subject to change, expand, decrease, deceive, provoke and even to bore with banality.
It is that freedom that I insist upon (albeit it oftentimes exists solely in my own mind) that awards me the possibility to think and create outside of the box, to be creative in sometimes different ways, to embrace the countless possibilities in Life and in Art, to take chances, to fall on my face artistically and learn better solutions and techniques in my next oeuvre, and to never give up on being creative — no matter how unknown or unsuccessful I may be in the eyes of fame-seekers and celebrity-idols, or persons who wish to impose their own visions of reality and the world upon my art.
Many years ago, an art customer of mine who had purchased several large paintings suddenly asked me when I thought I would become “famous”, so that the value of the investments would appreciate. I smiled and replied: “Perhaps in some years, perhaps never. In the meantime, it is best to buy art that you love and which enriches your surroundings and life.”
In 2006, the New York Times ran an excellent article entitled “The Fame Motive”
It provides much insight into the questions I am addressing.
Decades ago, I was at an afternoon concert at Carnegie Hall, which included a new piece by the the eminent composer Witold Lutoslawski on the program. There were many senior citizens in the audience (many were then the age that I am now). Shortly after the piece began almost one-third of the audience rose up and left the concert hall in protest. The music was just too much for them — too contemporary. It was – perhaps – ahead of its time. Or was it just out of sync with THEIR time?
Will I manage to keep up with new art in time? Or should I just make my own time?
– Adam Donaldson Powell