What is a painting? (part 3)

What is a painting? (part 3)

The effort to create a unique meaning for our work is worth it. Over time, with consistency and determination to return to our own questions, we find the expansive and interesting answers that build our lives. 

Today, I write with a revelation. Painting, a transformative act, has the power to rebuild the sacred in our lives. It is an answer to our human necessity, a beacon of hope in a desecrated world built on Capitalism’s false promises of comfort and privilege. Capitalism may have isolated the sacred into religion, but a few creative acts, like painting, can restore our sense of connectedness and bring back the sacred into our lives. 

How can we experience and discuss the spiritual realm without falling into cliches, predetermined thoughts, and even more isolating conditions determined by hierarchies? The relationship established by a painting is one way. 

For a long time, I've observed how people who admire and love paintings don't just 'take' an artwork for themselves. It's not about possession, but about a deep, personal connection. This connection, this profound identification, helps us define ourselves. A painting is an object that successfully mediates this space of connection. Instead of loving a person directly, we love the object they created. A painting is a way to love someone, which is why buying a painting directly from the artist who created it feels like an intimate action: one that is often hard to take. 

As humans, we are constantly creating systems to soften the blow—the blow of whatever action feels threatening to our hardened shell. I don’t know why it became so hard to open our hearts and connect with one another. I don’t want to go into analyzing history and bringing up more of the criticism of capitalism through colonization and patriarchy. Yet, I want to entertain the idea that we created the art market (as a system) to soften the blow of the challenging connection one can establish with an artist. It is difficult because both the artist and the public are not accustomed to connecting this way.

Last week, I had the privilege of buying artwork directly from an artist. I was eager to see and talk to her, to learn more about her thoughts and art practice. I scheduled to pick up the work in her studio, but to my disappointment, I found it inside a bag hanging on the closed door. She wasn’t there to give it to me, and she wasn’t up to connecting in any way other than selling her work. This frustrated connection brought up the clarity for writing this text. Even without talking with her, though, having her work made me feel cool and up to date – because she is young, and her work is visually challenging in how it expresses her youth.

My paintings are the explicit expression of the softness of connection we can experience through art. They are, in themselves, the challenging steps I need to consciously take to deeply connect with others – particularly, first, with my children – and with life itself in a world that builds layers upon layers between us and others, us and our own spiritual realization.