Thursday, August 24, 2023

a steady hand


Dear Sympathetic,

And nerves of steel.  It is a very delicate operation, sifting through the objects of the past.  You need a steady hand and nerves of steel to pull the tiny needles from the endless hay.

I examined carefully several disintegrating plastic bags full of my old figure drawings.  They were good.  The weight was where it was heavy, the line was where it was light, the shadow was where the energy was, the gesture matched the movement.  They were good.  There were hundreds.  They were as good as anything.  Let me try to explain; I would think they were good if someone else had made them, if I saw them in a museum in Europe I would think they were good,  I would say:  I saw this great show of drawings at the Pompidou.  I was in Venice, and the biennale had this amazing exhibit of figure drawings.  


But, let's remember that I made them, and so I am not really qualified to say whether they are good or bad.  Well, actually, no one will object if I say they are bad, but the point still stands.  We cannot really feel sure of the quality or merit of what we have done.  There are better ones, yes; and there are worse ones.  So, where are we?  Good or Bad?  I think we need a new way to end the sentence, the project.  It cannot be money or validation from the Institution, so what could it be, this thing that confers satisfaction?

Also, let's not forget the Famous Artist Instructor* asked to have some of my drawings, because they were that good. I gave them, of course, and within two years I had forgotten I had even been complimented in this way.  So, it doesn't last, that's sure.  It doesn't carry you like a raft over the rough seas.  The other thing I see, now, is that I was A Good Student.  Which means, as you already know, that I followed directions accurately and carefully.  Which, well, may not be anything to celebrate, either.  It might be Bad, even.  But if it were Good, that would not be that great either.

Does this kind of circular stuff make your head hurt?  Or does it let you see that yes, the circle just repeats, and maybe you don't want that anymore, either?

* The thing to note here, is that the Famous Artist Instructor was selling their work, in several high profile galleries, and also, working a full time teaching gig.  This was the late '80s, early '90s, so it should have been the (late and ending) good old days for making a living as an artist, but they were also pulling a 9 to 5 teaching, which suggests that even Famous Artist is not as lucrative as we might all have hoped.

PS  Do, please, take a peek at the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things.