“I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say 'he feels deeply, he feels tenderly'.”
~Vincent van Gogh
Recently I was talking with Eric about artists who inspire us and the reasons that they inspire us. My style of art tends to be very heavy on color and has a loose brushstroke. Naturally I am drawn to artists who succeeded in a similar vein. Artists like Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh really speak to me, but not simply because of their art. I am also interested in their personal stories and the way that they are reflected in their art. Both men struggled with mental health, interpersonal relations, with faith, with loss, with friendship, with connecting---at different points in their lives. Those struggles of being a human are there, reflected in their art in such a way that I feel like somehow I know them, or they know me. Just a shared humanity that really speaks to my core.
“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”~Edvard Munch
Often people ask if Claude Monet is a major inspiration for me and I cannot deny that his work has an influence on my own. However, his work was much more methodical, heavy on theory. He was courageous in his willingness to shun the academic system in pursuit of new theories in art. I completely admire that, but his work does not speak to me on a deeper personal level. Don't misunderstand, I LOVE his work. Honestly I probably love most every artist just for the shared love of art that passes between us. I find that I am more interested in artists who were willing to share something from inside of them, a courage of a more personal nature.
Our conversation carried on in such a way and I mentioned that I have also had a renewed interest in Frida Kahlo. Perhaps this stems from a recent onslaught of articles about Frida that were fairly informative. I really hadn't given her work a ton of thought since grad school. I knew her life story with its traumas and triumphs, but never had I really felt a deep connection with her until recently. I spotted a well-known piece, Henry Ford Hospital, about her miscarriage and I was struck by her openness, her willingness to share her pain and vulnerability. Then I looked at her body of work as a whole and it was as though I was seeing it with new eyes, that openness and vulnerability is all there and I love it. I admire people who are willing to be weak and share their pain and the sorrow with anyone who is willing to look.
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.”~Frida Kahlo
I feel like we spend so much time posturing and pretending to be strong when we are weak and brave when we are frightened. Often I am in situations where people apologize for feeling a certain way and that has always perplexed me. Why do we pretend to do or be what we are not? It seems so counter-productive doesn't it? Of course not everyone needs to know our every thought or feeling, but it certainly sends a weird message when we pretend to be different or hide what we actually are. I am absolutely horrible at hiding my feelings so it has never been a successful option for me; perhaps this is why I can't understand its value.