I had a dream about art the other evening, I have been doing impressionist-style portraits from life lately. The dream was talking about generational differences between me and the artists who are now in their thirties. Specifically, graffiti artists trained at elite art schools like the SCA. The dream kept hammering into me that I had to stop trying to copy these artists or emulate their training as I didn’t have their knowledge.
As well as that the dream was saying that my drawing style and painting style at the moment is impressionism and my aerosol style was borrowing too much from other artists. I suppose I look at a lot of contemporary art all of the time and I do find it inspires me. I can see the thread though in these dreams, I have been reading about Auerbach and his persistence in looking at art only to not use it as a cue for ideas but at what not to do.
Auerbach would see originality as a path from knowing what great art is but not finding yourself just making pictures based on your knowledge of art. It seems counterintuitive but I do something similar with my aerosol work I will have small references that a lot of people miss but that borrow from the vernacular of graffiti. I like what a street artist once said about not knowing anything about graffiti so you can create something completely different.
It wasn’t precisely said like that but the naivety an up-and-coming artist brings to street art if they are aware enough is something that can break with convention, although it doesn’t happen much. I think I can do that with graffiti yet I don’t have the ability to clear my own path or totally reinvent what I do or have known in my time. I am in that time warp yet clearly active now and as I go through my fairly pedestrian repertoire I can’t help but appropriate from younger artists in an old-timers kind of way.
Yet with all of this appropriation mentally I am not up to speed and the only way out is to either pretend I never did any art whatsoever and just disappear into quiet solitude which has kind of happened anyway. The only problem is I can’t seem to stop thinking about art in some form or another and I see most things as an opportunity to explore. I guess I don’t live in a vacuum and I don’t think Auerbach was alone in his approach from working with Leon Kossoff and Lucien Freud but he managed to find originality by looking at and not emulating the art he loved.
The other thing is I am more from the graffiti Hip Hop sampling mindset, most of what I appropriate comes out kind of skewed so I get thought of as original on walls and with art, I am happy to explore impressionism. I don’t think the dream I had was negative but more informative and a way of being aware of what I am trying to explore and where I am lifting ideas from. I don’t want to get too caught up in surface concerns like aesthetics yet I kind of can’t help but feel drawn to everything from advertising, visual detritus, illegal graffiti, high art and the observable everyday places I inhabit.
I have an online presence, I catch the bus and train every day and see so many things now that, rather than feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of visual noise I think everyone who is creative is sifting through the sands and creating even more noise. That is another reason why I don’t tag anymore, I am not as attached to the physical in that I have to break up space into smaller recognisable patterns. I can just take a photo and I have broken up the space that I can inspect or share. Maybe I am disconnected or have come to terms with my anonymity. I am trying to see a different picture in the same picture.
The only difference is the picture is slightly angled and aimed at the target. I am just as happy recording someone talking on the train and editing a video to add to the noise yet capture something that will never happen again or never be recorded and made into what is claimed as art. People will instead sit on the train and feel bothered by words they don’t want to hear from someone who is deemed mad yet they are the only people telling the truth that everyone wants to avoid and needs to know. The truth is always in plain sight and sometimes dreams are the only apparitions that can open a dialogue and make you think about what you are doing on a rock floating in space.