The real, the shadow, and the true.

October 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

What distinguishes the artist, or writer, or poet from the critic is that the artist doesn’t have to, and in fact shouldn’t think in categories. He doesn’t have to move inside a bordered territory, she doesn’t have to name the new places she goes, he can remain a wanderer and explorer or anything he likes but a conqueror. The artist moves freely between the “real” image and its shadow because she recognizes that they’re both true (I’m really sorry for this uncle Plato) and equally worth existing and witnessed. If the artist is lucky enough, he can also live his private life in accordance with the freedom he experiences in his artistic life, but this is difficult and seldom in both cases.

Real artistic freedom is very rare and in a world which is mercilessly categorized and meticulously bordered is certainly also not really appreciated and even scary. Most artists voluntarily jump into the role of a critic and try to find a name and place for their art to exist. It’s a mistake which causes too much stress and a creative block to some artists or makes others very rich (but happy too?) in a society which is mostly relieved to get the answers served together with the questions. There are of course also exceptions, like Gerhard Richter, who’s been an artist without artistic borders, relentlessly moving from one art form to the next for more than fifty years, constantly claiming his artistic freedom and parallel earning lots of money with it. [One of his Candles, “Kerze”, was sold for more than 12 million Euro at Christie’s this October. The artist himself found the amount of money payed for his art work “absurd”.]

And we, as spectators or readers, should we see art or read literature as a critic or should we try to taste a bit of this rare freedom when we detect it? I really believe that freedom is contagious because it is best compatible with the human soul, so there is a good chance we can then see art and read literature as an artist and poet ourselves. Best example is that all these thoughts were born by looking at this one photograph.


§ 2 Responses to The real, the shadow, and the true.

  • maria says:

    Great meditation on the shifting borders of that territory between artistic freedom and form. I was reared in the long and filtered shadow of your “Uncle Plato,” so form has made (sorry for the pun) an indelible impression on me, and yet my life unfolds in the “shadows” of all sorts of forms. Can’t speak for other artists, but as a poet, it takes all my “formal” training to speak of the truth of life in the shadows, without distorting it or scorching it in the sun, so to speak. That is, I find the skill I rely on most (techne?) is that of the go-between, translator, or envoy between these two realms, so that each can have news of the other. But then, you and I (both of us “not born in English”), we know how tough it is to be the go-between and how illuminating freedom can be.


    • MayB. says:

      Being fascinated by a/the form, perfecting the artist’s “formal” skills is in no contradiction to being able to jump over their edge into their shadow, or into other, even more diffuse images than shadows are. Some would say that only the one who knows the rules can really break them, even if he chooses not to. That’s artistic freedom too.

      It’s just as you said. I really meditate here. I was moving back and forth from “real” to its shadow on this photo, and, instead of being frustrated, I felt happy and free for not always recognizing which is which. There have been plenty of moments like that lately in my life, and I was once again happy to really grasp how these felt by looking at an art work. If I’m frustrated by similar in the future, I’ll come back and look at this photo and remember.

      Welcome to my new blog Maria. Welcome!


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