“The more courageous I am in destroying a partial success the more likely it is that I will get something alive and true.” -Frank Auerbach
This quote made my hair stand on end.
I used to think that art meant taking all the bad stuff and putting it out there, to make something interesting out of the desperate and painful. In other words, that art couldn’t be other than what I had in my pockets at that moment.
David Roddis, “Self Portrait with Doppelgänger”, 2014. © DRoddis/Florian Photo/Art of Flowers.
But I see now that art can transcend what I am. This doesn’t mean that my work won’t ever express desperation and pain, or that I’ll gloss over difficulties, or settle for the pretty-pretty (which, considering that I choose flowers as subjects, is pretty damn tempting).
But as I have used the camera, I have learned, painfully, to look outside myself and to see. So what’s coming out is less like therapy (me-focused) and more like compassion (outward AND me focused).
My pain separates me from you (though, paradoxically, what I feel is no more than the pain you’ve felt. (Maybe it’s even the same pain, from your hands to mine, still stove-hot and sticky;
the same pain, cold and congealed as the dead man’s smile you greet me with.) My compassion connects me to you through our common knowledge of suffering; the primal version of which is separation.
What’s this got to do with ART, you ask?
Wait until you no longer need to ask. Then ask.