i've been thinking about art lately. years and years ago, when i was living in london, i used to go to galleries all the time. the big galleries like the tate and the national gallery and also the smaller galleries. i went to any gallery that was displaying work that i thought would be interesting. i've always known a lot of artists. when i was in memphis, i hung out a lot with the art grad students. i didn't like all of them, as artists are notoriously narcissistic and hanging out with them was sometimes overwhelming because everyone was trying to be the center of attention all the time. but i loved going to their shows.
what i love about art is transcendence. when you look at true art, you can truly transcend the artificial boundaries between self and aesthetic. pure aesthetic.
stendhal, who traveled to florence and became overtaken with emotion when confronted with the intense reality of caravaggio.
i felt these feelings a very long time before i knew it was an actual thing. it's pure unadulterated emotion. i spend most of my life trying NOT to feel things, but with art it is the one thing that i allow myself to be overwhelmed by the experience of perception.
i remember the first time i felt that way. i was in st bride's fleet st. there was something about the way the ceiling reminded me of a sky with all of this glowing light and the flickering of the multitude of candles that were burning for journalists in places like bosnia and lebanon and the carved wood and the geometry of the room. it was the most sublime feeling. it was like everything perfect all at one time. everything fit together. everything made everything else better.
i felt it the first time i saw a van gogh in person. i had always been lukewarm towards van gogh prior to this. i mean, his prints are everywhere. but when you are staring right at the starry night and you can see the thick layers of paint that look like they were textured with fingers, not brushes, and you can actually feel the movement of the subject. i couldn't look away. after seeing them, i refuse to own any van gogh print. ever.
i felt it the first time i looked through larry clark's 'teenage lust.' even though the images leave you completely sickened, in many cases.
i went to a kandinsky retrospective that changed my life. it literally changed me. before that i had been incredibly dismissive about abstract art. but seeing those paintings. painting after perfect painting. the lines and the shapes and the colors and the balance. i felt feverish. i didn't look at things the same way after that.
i remember the last time i felt it in a gallery. i was at a student show in memphis. there was this installation piece in a room. all of these symmetrical, hanging crystal beads. there's no description i could give that would even begin to explain. you had to feel it. i didn't expect to like it. i walked by the room several times, unimpressed with the sparkling. then i got bored waiting for my artist date who was talking to some people about this photograph that everyone was intrigued by that was really just a bad knock-off of larry clark's 'i am one of god's mistakes'. when is stepped into the middle of the room i caught my breath. it was the most amazing feeling. i felt light.
this is what art should be. this is what i'm looking for.