There seems, recently, to have been a change in my psyche and my taste for things. Oh, I've always liked most everything, which can be a difficult problem, but the degree to which I have been hungering for certain things over others has tilted. It's this tilting that has caused a cataclysmic shift in my world view. Ok. Perhaps not my world view, but my artistic ideology. It's as if I've finally cracked out of an egg shell and seen the light.
It hasn't been long since this alteration germinated. I'm not sure, exactly, when it started, but I'm thinking the first chink in my encasement occurred when I started watching Waldemar Januszczak's art history documentaries. Januszczak is incredibly entertaining and extremely enlightening. He explains things I already knew in such a way that I discovered I never really knew what I thought I did. It's like I finally understand why my 19th Century French Art History professor got so angry with me as to give me a "C" and a nasty comment on a very good paper in which I stated Manet couldn't paint. It's the only "C" I got in nine years of college and university, excepting Chemistry class and, maybe, something else, I can't remember.
As much as I love and adore Impressionism, I really didn't like Manet. And, it's not that I thought by any stretch of the imagination that I was or am a better painter than he, or that he wasn't a great painter in general. I just thought he wasn't as good as he should've been, to have been called the "Father of Impressionism." Besides, I thought he was mean to his sister-in-law, Berthe Morisot. I can't remember the specific anecdote that brought me to that conclusion, but at one time I did and I formed an opinion. Januszczak's Understanding Art: Impressionism series doesn't treat Manet as the Father of Impressionism. That distinction goes, more rightly, to Camille Pissarro.
While I understand now why my professor was angry, for reasons beyond the scope of this blog post, I felt quite vindicated to discover that in some circles, Manet wasn't The Father. I hadn't heard much about Pissarro, not in 19th Century French Art History class, at least, but I began to seek him out and he led me to Cézanne. I've spent almost my entire painting life, trying to paint things that look like things and I'd pretty much ignored Cézanne's lopsided bowls and funky perspective, because, as many artists who strive to paint things to look like things, I thought he just couldn't get his perspective right, and that was that.
I was a fool, blinded by a prejudice I was proud to have. To me and many of my acquaintances the only true art was that which is faithful to nature. But, you can't look at a Cézanne for an extended period of time and not be baptized into the idea that there are things in the world that are more important than painting a picture that looks exactly like its subject in proper perspective. Like, maybe, there's something more. Like, many perspectives! Like, maybe, the quest to answer unasked questions is the only true purpose of an artist's existence. It's the quest that comprises the gospel of the artist's soul.
I've been looking at a lot of pictures - Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, German Expressionist, American Impressionist, Abstract, Abstract Expressionist, This-ist and That-ist - trying to find that gospel out there, somewhere. That's when the chink happened and, suddenly, something urged me, forced me to, at least, take a peek through that hole in my shell. It said, just try something. Just make a painting exactly the way you want to make it. Not the way the books say to make it. Not the way your beloved Dr. Hillis, taught you to make it. Not the way the "Post-Contemporary" academics say it should be made. Just try to "express yourself." You have a right to do it your way, for once, all the voices be damned.
I named the painting, "Genesis."