Thursday, November 15, 2007
In much the same way that old friends have been discomforted by my success, I've seen a lot of women I don't even know discomforted by the imagery in my paintings. I've been told (by gallerists) that what many of them see in these glossy, candy-coloured, cartoon-like paintings of women frozen in positions of seduction and control is an embodiment of a lot of things they don't feel they have.That's part of the point – but it's also missing the point. The images are more-than-perfect, neither skin pore nor brush stroke is visible. Their shapes are unrealistic. Hell, not even Nadja Auermann has legs like the ones I've drawn in my early paintings. And yet I've overheard women compare themselves physically to these exaggerated figures. Recently, an art collector wanted to buy two of my works in the secondary market but his wife said they made her feel insecure.At my last gallery exhibition of watercolour paintings, I noticed people hardly knew where to look – or they looked everywhere but at the works themselves. The images were only a little more sexually explicit than those seen every day in mass media. They were no more violent than footage on the evening TV news. I guess what people found disconcerting were the ideas within the images, ideas that irritated personal issues with sex and intimacy, ideas that insisted on the viewer embracing or rejecting a certain psychological/spiritual/sexual inquisitiveness.It's much easier and self-assuaging – especially in the dumbed down, spoon-fed, hyper-appropriated and regurgitated culture of our omni-mediated world - to not think, to not have to deal with someone else's perspectives, just as my former friends and lovers could only deal with me when I suppressed mine. I remember how often I kept quiet so I wouldn't be accused of thinking too much.If people are discomforted by ideas, it's not surprising that they become discomforted by being around someone whose whole focus in life and work is to explore ideas and somehow bring them to life. Maybe that's why truly dedicated artists and other creative thinkers have often been quite solitary. While their ideas are appreciated over time – in other words, at a distance – having to deal with them up close, every day, has always been confronting and difficult.