Friday, November 2, 2012
Installation View: "Where I Have Lived and What I Live For"
Gasser Grunert, 2010
all works believed lost
I believe that some of the art I make is good. I also believe that my best work is produced when I am making a lot of it. In addition, if the project is well conceived before I ever put a pencil or paint to surface, the result is better. It is sometimes as though the work makes itself.
Right now I have a set of two unfinished paintings tacked to my studio wall. They're stuck. I keep trying to complete them but I remain indecisive. I have been working on them for more than a year. Sometimes the size and complexity of work requires a substantial period of time for completion. These paintings are neither complex nor large. They were incomplete from the get-go.
Years ago, my inability to complete these paintings would have rendered me unable to complete any other paintings. It wasn't perfectionism, it was ego and fear and procrastination. I would have fixated on how profound their narrative was, how complete they needed to be. I am fortunate that my practice has broadened enough that have I now have more ideas than time, and I no longer believe my work to be so weighty that a particular project's failure can hinder the production of other work.
I have been thinking about this a lot in the wake of Sandy, and her devastating impact on artists in the New York City area. I have several friends who have lost not just whole bodies of work, but also the spaces in which they create them. News photos of Manhattan's Chelsea galleries and Brooklyn's Red Hook studios break my heart.While this devastation is certainly less tragic than the loss of lives and homes, I feel so sad for the artists and the hours of dedication and skill they had invested in their work.
But I am hopeful. The artists I know will continue to make good and perhaps even better work. All of their knowledge and skill will be enhanced by the personal experience of this loss. The community of artists will be strengthened by it. I believe this.
I'm looking at these two paintings again and I'm going to put them away or get rid of them outright. If by some calamity, in 10 years, my work was all destroyed, I would much rather go forward with the sense of accomplishment of having made a substantive amount of work, good and bad. I would value the experience and craft gained in the process of making that work. The real tragedy would be in attempting, achieving and then losing nothing.
To all of my tribe who have lost studios and work due to Sandy, my heart breaks for you. But really... I can't wait to see the work that comes next.