being (an artist)

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” – Albert Einstein

“To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”
- Jasper Johns

Combine these two statements and you have a sense of what it is to be an artist later in life. A young artist needs the energy and ambition to prosper in a very difficult professional environment. Later, you’re consolidating; the aim is just to be. Advancement becomes an internal thing, not an external progress.

Art sometimes provides a gateway to the mysterious. Sometimes you look at a painting, read something, or hear some music that seems to pull back a screen somewhere deep within you, giving access to an infinity of space and time. It is a place where things have no material form – they are sensed, and known, but not articulated. In this place, which exists within oneself, but where the boundaries of self are dissolved, some quality or content in the art is recognised. Maybe when one is older, this place has been visited more often and so is easier to find.

For me, making art is like following an invisible thread, in much the same way that this metaphor occurs in mythologies throughout the world, from the Greek story in which Ariadne’s thread leads Theseus out of the labyrinth to the Chinese red string of fate. This thread joins me to other people, past and present, and to that place of infinity.

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