Oct 15th, 2020 - Oct 22nd, 2020
Curated by Annette Hur
Actively doing things without a goal sounds difficult, but actively doing things without meaning sounds brutal. During the past eight months or so, I personally felt like a dog without its daily walks. A lost sense of smell, my biggest strength, my job, my joy, something I am alive with all its stimulation, motivation, ventilation, and satisfaction, have become non-essential.
I made awkward eye contact with a stranger from the bus station—I live/work on the ground floor of an apartment in front of a bus stop between a mechanic and a motorcycle restoration workshop. I realized then while looking out the window with the luxury of time to ponder and complain about how the meaning of humanity seems utterly fragile—and that short, almost discourteous, eye contact made me feel very exposed. Not physically but emotionally.
I savor the feeling of being exposed or vulnerable emotionally often even in my solitude. Painting—or art making in general—is a vulnerable act. Creating a piece is akin to stripping naked in front of others although the creation itself still usually happens in solitude. According to Picasso, ‘Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.’ It seems what happens in solitude is alchemistic or spiritual. What is it that agrees to the undeniable relationship between solitariness and great work?
Expression is as necessary to me as leaf and blossoms are to the black branches of the trees that show themselves above the prison walls and are so restless in the wind. Between my art and the world there is now a wide gulf, but between art and myself there is none. I hope at least that there is none.
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
Have I in recent years made any work in complete isolation where there is ‘none’ between art and myself? Even if you are privileged enough to have a private studio to yourself, have we not been hearing those wheezing, poignant sounds in our head that constantly demand “clarity” and “appropriateness” whether it is political or aesthetical? When Wilde was longing for acceptance in bitterness and despair, brooding his forced quarantine from the world, he was doubtless faced with the quintessence of his own reflections upon art.
I have spoken intimately with the exhibiting artists over zoom. In solitude, they have made things from rudimentary drawings to things they would have not thought to—one even designed the interior of a penthouse apartment! They have found dumb pleasure out of creating the meaningless and contemplating on what lies before them. Some days were good, some were untenable. This time would not be remembered as the best thing that has ever happened to them but the result seems minorly magical.
- Annette Hur