“Your art is so FUN!” I was told the other day.
Fun. Like a dull thud in my heart. My smile-grimace cloaked a deep hurt, and at the same time, I chastised myself for not being able to embrace ‘fun’ as a supreme compliment. It brought up an argument between a deep-rooted part of myself and newer part of myself that I’ve been trying to cultivate. My long-coddled desire to be taken ‘seriously’ as an artist, fighting the wildling-child that wants to be set loose in the studio.
Sometimes the exploration of the self in art seems mean and small-minded, where ‘fun’ equals ‘frivolous’. When it comes to the product of these investigations of consciousness, I feel guilty. The paintings are too colorful. They were made with joy and without sacrifice. They are profoundly first-world.
The emerging optimist says, Never mind! The artists overtly attending to world events and political strife are only a fraction of those that nourish me. Artists like Hundertwasser, Miro and Kandinsky offer both a small relief from the tedium of the everyday, and simultaneously elevate the everyday so that they are appreciated in a new light. At the same time, subjects of their paintings subtly address serious issues (we need belligerently serious artists, too, of course!).
Even painters I’ve long admired considered Germanic and reclusive — artists like Giacometti, Auerbach and Kiefer — are playful in the studio. What I love in their images is exactly that sense of play and experimentation, the otherworldliness of them. I love that they simultaneously make me forget myself and give me a sense of belonging, make me feel more organically part of the world.
In light of my chief source of inspiration–children’s drawings–I can make peace with my colorful paintings. I don’t want to pin thoughts and butterflies down. I want to release them from my chest and mind, into the world. In modern society we have epidemics of anxiety, depression and workaholism, are inundated by social norms, a preoccupation with appearances and judgements. Perhaps making play permissible and art fun is the most serious job there is.
What do you think?