I have been doing some posts on Facebook to encourage friends to support living artists by buying their work rather than another gadget which rapes the world of precious minerals. My motivation is simple: I am grateful for all the many artists that I have met this year. They have been a part of a healing journey and an inspiration. I have already written of my healing journey but I have begun to move beyond that and into inspiration.
I don’t know if visual artists find themselves being competitive with one another, but I have found that spending time socially with too many writers is not always inspiring. I have a few good friends who are writers, and I have great teachers, but in a group of writers, competition and one upsmanship always surfaces…eventually. A writer’s workshop is invaluable. But I find my greatest inspiration comes not from seeing how other writers view the world, but rather, how other types of artists view it.
I love to spend time with actors, mostly because I came to writing as a performer. If I am writing a fictional or dramatic piece, I almost always begin with character. Musicians are way out there in their thinking and they exercise a part of my brain that has been dormant since my late teens. Songwriters, to me, are our modern poets.
And visual artists…well…to me, they create the ocean of subtext in which any writer swims. For whatever reason, I find my greatest inspiration in the visual, these days. And so, meeting artists, I am inspired by associations I make from their work and there is only inspiration rather than appropriation in a writer/artist dialogue. I may write about gender identity and androgyny and you may paint it, but there is no theft, but a kind of dance. Maybe an artist would feel differently about writers than this writer feels about artists, but that is how I see it.
Looking at my posts, I realise that I have never actually written about one of my favourite artists – as an artist. I have only written about him as a person. What I love about him as a person is how open and vulnerable he appears. I can’t say for certain if he is open (only he knows) but when you talk to him, you see expressions cross his face that are reminiscent of children who are so open, loving and trusting. Vulnerability is what makes such emotionally engaging art a possibility. Vulnerability is a dangerous state and not easily switched off. I once made a passing comment in jest and I think he took it to heart. One can apologise, as I did, but once wounded, the scar remains. I will always regret disappointing, and possibly hurting my friend.
That is the terrible cruelty of art. To access our deepest selves for our art, we open ourselves to laying on a bed of thorns when we choose to interact with others. I both wish I could be as emotionally open as he, and am grateful for what is left of my armour, at Day 471.
I am grateful to Alo for showing me his truly open heart and for providing me a difficult lesson in tender care and regret.
As an artist, I am gratefully indebted to Alo. When I first photographed the art of Alo StreetArt, I needed to know who the artist was.
Alo’s work seems to me to possess the angst of Egon Schiele, the isolation of Oskar Kokoshka and the energy of German expressionism between the wars. Personally, it makes me feel off-kilter and question what I am seeing, the way the work of the neo-expressionist and “romantic outsider,” Georg Baselitz makes one feel.
Alo’s complex “urban expressionism” is unique to our time and seems to populate a landscape of decadence and nihilism with subjects in crisis. To me, his pieces capture a world of soulless materialism, lacking in accountability and overrun with fast information absent of any meaning. It is a world where impossible dreams meet the imperative to project an ideal image. The alienation of his subjects is viscerally palpable.
Alo’s art taught me to counter the need for speed on the London street and to simply slow down and appreciate art, again. So emotionally engaging, I have learned to wait and to look and to see their stories, which are only revealed slowly, over time. I have fallen in love with one of his newest pieces: “Liminal” now available at the Saatchi gallery. If you aren’t, like me, giving away everything you own, and you want to own a piece that will reveal itself like a lover, over time, invest in a piece by Alo.
And finally, I am grateful for the education of the European art gallery. The thought of being unable to jet off for a weekend on an art viewing trip makes me feel like I am suffocating. I don’t know how I will be able to survive. Art really has become my breath.
It was a joy today to spend some time looking at Alo’s work, to be able to write the passage above. His subjects break the heart and again, provide a lesson in compassion. I have not been out, photographing art much lately. Spending time in his gallery reminded me how rich his painting is and how much I care about both the artist and his work.
I spent some time serving a charity by collecting food donations for a food bank today. As I did, I felt a sense of Oneness with both the people being helped by the donations and with the goodness of the people of London. I was heartened by the number of busy shoppers that opted in. And, it made me grateful for my full pantry and the bit of money in my pockets.
As we head into the weekend, it remains to ask:
For what are you most grateful, today?