Beyond Obsessions: Embracing Complexity and the Alligators Within
I believe that as artists, we embark on a perpetual journey of self-discovery, constantly evolving and transcending our previous selves. Along this path, we may find ourselves drawn to particular themes or concepts that shape our artistic expression. However, there comes a time when we must question these obsessions, challenge the grand narratives we’ve constructed, and embrace the complexities of the human experience. In this blog post, I’d like to explore the transition from a fixation on the masculine hero archetype to the contemplation of the wise hermit, acknowledging the inherent lies and contradictions while seeking deeper philosophical truths.
From Savior to Seeker:
Throughout history, depictions of the masculine hero as saviour and protector have resonated deeply within artistic realms. The Bayeux Tapestry, with its valiant knights and triumphant battles, exemplifies this archetype. It was one of my fixations as a young man and art student, and I still seek in it something that may not exist.
For those of you who don’t know of it, the Bayeux Tapestry is an iconic masterpiece of medieval art that weaves a captivating narrative which transcends time. Created in the 11th century, this extraordinary work of embroidery measures approximately 70 meters in length and depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. It is believed to have been crafted by skilled artisans in Canterbury, England, under the patronage of Bishop Odo of Bayeux, who was the half-brother of William the Conqueror. At present we do not know how many people were involved in creating the Tapestry but we can say it would have been embroidered by women because all the surviving evidence demonstrates that only women in early medieval England embroidered.
The tapestry serves as a visual chronicle, vividly capturing pivotal moments such as the Battle of Hastings and the coronation of William as the King of England. Beyond its historical significance, the Bayeux Tapestry also showcases the artistry and technical skill of its creators, utilizing vibrant colors, intricate stitching, and carefully composed scenes to tell a compelling story. Today, this remarkable artifact is housed in the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, France, where visitors can marvel at its remarkable craftsmanship and immerse themselves in the tale it unfolds.
To some, that tapestry might be seen as propaganda, but it’s a powerful piece of storytelling never-the-less.
Yet, fixations aside, as artists we begin to question the simplistic narrative of the hero’s journey, realizing that life’s complexities extend far beyond the simplistic dichotomy of good versus evil.
The Hermit’s Quest:
My second fixation was the idea of the secluded hermit. Being the introvert that I am, I am drawn to the idea of the hermit seeking enlightenment – in search of a more profound understanding, my artistic gaze turns toward the figure of the wise hermit, residing in seclusion and seeking enlightenment. Like the Franciscan monks in their monasteries, these hermits represent a pursuit of inner knowledge and spiritual growth. However, we must acknowledge that this idealized existence is often a grand lie—a romanticized notion of living in harmony with nature that is often unattainable in our modern, interconnected world.
Embracing the Complexity:
While the hermit’s pursuit of enlightenment may be idealized, it serves as a metaphor for our collective search for deeper meaning in the face of life’s intricate tapestry. We confront the contradictions and complexities that lie beneath the surface, recognizing that the world is not neatly divided into heroes and villains, or into wise hermits and ordinary lives. It is in this acknowledgement of complexity that true growth and understanding can be found.
Confronting the Alligators:
Life is not without its struggles, and our artistic journey reflects this truth. Just as alligators lurk beneath the water’s edge, unseen and waiting for the uninitiated, so too do the challenges and obstacles we face as artists. The grand lies we tell ourselves—a philosophical justification for our struggles—serve as reminders that the creative path is not always smooth. It is through navigating these treacherous waters that we find resilience, authenticity, and a deeper connection to our craft.
The Power of the Lie:
Paradoxically, the lie we confront becomes a catalyst for our artistic growth. It pushes us to delve further, to question and explore the complexities of existence, and to uncover hidden truths. The lie becomes a philosophical tool, propelling us forward and igniting our creativity. It reminds us that art is not just about depicting the surface, but about delving into the depths and confronting the unknown.
As artists, I believe we move beyond our previous obsessions and preconceived notions, embracing the complexity and contradictions of the human experience. We recognize that life cannot be reduced to simplistic archetypes or romanticized ideals. Instead, we navigate the ever-changing waters, acknowledging the alligators lurking beneath, and find solace in the philosophical lies that fuel our creativity. In embracing this multidimensional reality, we discover the power to challenge, inspire, and create art that reflects the profound intricacies of existence.
OR that is what I hope is the “Truth.” The alligators may well be winning.
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