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A Pure Art

For as long as I have made work I have thought about the importance of an artist’s anonymity. More specifically, the inherent significance of the work itself, a “pure art” as the artist Il Lee would describe it.

My interest in artists like Reinhardt and Martin reflect this. There is a devilish element of swimming up-stream, here, in that recognition of the work must occur. The challenge is in the artist confusing themselves with their work.

The steady stream of considering the art of our time and its relationship to the market is an immense knot made tighter by social media and the amount of money exchanged for works of art.  

I do not make work for recognition.  There are many who say they do not want or like the attention. I will take the leap here and say, not only do artists who say that not know themselves well, they are living a lie.  There are many more making work for the recognition of themselves then for the recognition of the work. It is about them. My work and I are separate.

This view does not imply that the work is not shown or sold. What it does mean is that the goal is the production of the work.  Il Lee’s “pure art”, Reinhardt’s Art as Art, and Martin’s work about “happiness and innocence” is not about them; it is a call for an abandonment of ego in the process of making work and as living as an artist. It is recognizing that the work has a life of its own. The artist is a catalyst whose work (hopefully) is contributing to the discourse of the time; they are compelled to mark that moment. And to further this, they have a deep understanding of the tradition from which they come. They are contributing to a 40,000 + year lineage. The artist is one drop in a body of water that fills the entire world yet, there has never been a time in art history that is more opportunistic and mediocre than this. With all we know – one would think that we would be doing better.

A “pure art” is made without putting the responsibility of financial gain on the work. The work must be free to arrange the space that it occupies. It is not the artist’s mule. It has a life of its own. The work fails when the artist competes for attention with what they have made.

What is left? Honor, wisdom, respect, confidence, silence and listening. To traverse the game and to walk away.


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