Unhitched, 60 x 72 in, oil on canvas, Sharon Kingston
Artists face the “wall of necessity” in the way they become identified with a style of work. And even though commercial success may result, it is a form of imprisonment to paint from that space. To be striving, challenging oneself and taking risks in process and product do not fit in the mold of the making work that sells–the hivelike activity that artists who wish to make a living from their work often find themselves.
As of late, I’ve been unhitiching myself from those contemplative atmospheric landscapes for which I’m identified. And evolving, ever so slowly, into a space that is more abstract, more me and much more difficult–yet rewarding. The paintings themselves carry in them more work and time, a host of unknowns and the process finds me “below the threshold of thought” in a space that connects the physicality of the paint with a unconscious part of my mind.
These words from Levi-Strauss sum up the moments when creating is at its finest.
From Levi-Strauss When the spectrum or rainbow of human cultures has finally sunk into the void created by our frenzy; as long as we continue to exist and there is a world, that tenuous arch linking us to the inaccessible will still remain, to show us the opposite course to that leading to enslavement; man may be unable to follow it, but its contemplation affords him the only privilege of which he can make himself worthy; that of arresting the process, of controlling the impulse which forces him to block up the cracks in the wall of necessity one by one and to complete his work at the same time as he shuts himself up within his prison; this is a privilege coveted by every society, whatever its beliefs, its political system or its level of civilization; a privilege to which it attaches its leisure, its pleasure, its peace of mind and its freedom; the possibility, vital for life, of unhitching, which consists—Oh! fond farewell to savages and explorations!—in grasping, during the brief intervals in which our species can bring itself to interrupt its hive-like activity, the essence of what it was and continues to be, below the threshold of thought and over and above society: in the contemplation of a mineral more beautiful than all our creations; in the scent that can be smelt at the heart of a lily and is more imbued with learning than all our books; or in the brief glance, heavy with patience, serenity and mutual forgiveness, that, through some involuntary understanding, one can sometimes exchange with a cat.