2018 Beware, dear self

Beware, dear self.

Beware of flaccidity, of others’ truths borrowed for your own glory.

Escape from your pain if you must, that’s fine, even good – but know you are doing it.

Beware the seduction of the head, of explanation. Beware the convoluted sentence that says nothing.

Beware the self-consciously bad painting that is just…bad.

Parodies of offensiveness that are just…offensive.

Sentimental art that commodifies the pain of others.

Retro art that is just…repro.

Instead, go where it hurts and both expose the hurt and comfort yourself. That is the balm of art.

Monitor the skill, the effectiveness, the attraction, the entertainment value of your offering. Do not monitor what emerges from your heart. There is only you and the world out there, and the art comes into being somewhere between.

If you work in this way, you will be like a child in a fairy tale, following a beautiful, glowing thread forever through glorious landscapes. There will be no end to the delight and fascination of the world you move through. The thread will lead you all the way to your death with the utmost grace.

Allow the frills and flourishes, allow forays into foolishness, allow little self-indulgences. As you follow that thread, pull it this way and that, go down alleys and into copses, but don’t get lost down one, stuck in repetitive production. Recognise and respect your iconography – it will probably be with you for life. That is something different to repetition, because iconography can be used in infinite ways.

And while allowing experimentation, remember where it’s coming from, your place of pain, the thorn in the foot, the sand in the oyster, the niggling plaint, the child’s unheard cry, the monstrous injustice, the dreams that keep coming back.