is art born of the necessity to address all the need in the world?
or is art love as it is lived? does it exist beyond volition and need?
or does the one have nothing to do with the other?
art: a devotion, a job, a mission?
what drives a person to make art in this day and age.
why does a brushstroke, a line, exert such power over artists today that they devote their whole lives to it and are willing to hurl themselves into the abyss? why are we haunted by the line, by colour. how do they manage, without ever asking, to make us take risks as fearlessly as if someone had drugged us?
does something happen in a person’s life that makes him or her an artist? or are artists simply born artists? if there is a trigger, what kind of trigger is it?
the father, stig, was born in 1930. he grew up an only child, lived deep in the swedish woods. his parents: father, a tunnel blaster, mother, a housewife. when he turned 14, his father told him: you’ve been in school long enough. now it’s time for you to work. and so stig left school and became a flower seller.
when he was 15, he won a prize for a short story he had written. the local press reported on his triumph and the event revealed a talent in him that would become of great importance to his career from there on in.
at 17, he was called up for national service and spent a year shivering in the swedish woods with other young men. no running water, no heating, no toilets.
this, he would later tell his children, was when it happened: one night, on the banks of a lake, he heard the voice of jesus. shortly after that, he left home for good and, now 19, joined an auxiliary squad bringing food and clothing to german refugees in schleswig-holstein. it was here that he began visiting religious seminars and became acquainted with god’s vocabulary.
he had found his life’s calling. he became a missionary and began spreading god’s word. his gift for storytelling made him an instant success and his parish sent him to do missionary work in france. yet the words were only his tools; the mission was his body and soul.
the mother, ase, had a very different upbringing. her father was a famous banjo player in the restaurants and bars of oslo. as for the grandmother, the information only begins in the final years of her life, when she was living in a home. but she was, by all accounts, filled with a great energy for life. ase was the first born, arriving in 1931.
ase had two brothers: a sailor and a dynamic, highly driven genius, from whom komisario x-bin appears to have inherited a great deal. much to his dismay, both brothers died very young, when they were around 30, and aside from what he learned from his mother’s stories, komisario never really knew them. ase’s sister, komisario’s aunt, was a pretty norwegian who married a wealthy lebanese man at 20 and disappeared to the far east. his mother, ase, was an enfant terrible at heart. how else was she to rebel against her liberal, unconventional family but to become a servant of god? she joined the salvation army and met stig, her future husband. when he left for his missionary posting in france, she went with him.
this is an experiment:
i want my words to draw me closer to the meaning, no, to the soul, and only the soul, of art.
i write, i want to write: with the violence of colour, with the shadows of the present. the blackness and the contrasts, the same tenderness i feel when i sweep my charcoal across the page.
my pictures appear on white backgrounds. white means the possibility of all conceivable approaches. so what does it mean, what is created when i leave a drawing there, on the white?
i believe writing, the process of writing, is like painting. sluggish at first, forms waiting to be found. the censoring thoughts must be held in check. want?
what is this want? why this want?
purpose is left at the door.
where there is purpose, there is no creation.
do artists have a responsibility?
do they just float along on their own cloud, or do they have a mission. and if they have a mission, who gives it to them?
he was born there, at home, surrounded by his family. no sooner had he emerged from his mother than he beamed at this new world with bright eyes and an inquisitive mind.
the midwife: “celui la, il va rouler les autres.”
an urge. an action. losing oneself.
the question: why am i doing this?
to open up. to exist beyond the instant hit, to be free, to leave causalities behind. to find new pathways for art, for painting. places where art can do something. in hospitals it can accompany the lonely, give them something to lean on and carry them to worlds far away from pain and disability.
art, what is art?
intensity and truthfulness.
intensity, intensity means giving yourself over to colour or form, fully. the colours expand, the brushstroke drifts across the page.
red flows over the paper, forms puddles, a map of emotion, i need only be able to see it. the brushstroke gives shape to something recognisable, allows the colour its space and plays out its own story and elation. yet it also reacts to the colour, and the colour to it.
where does the difference between painting and the written word lie?
the word clings to my spirit. everyone thinks they can understand. i write to be understood. i censor all moments of simple blabla, of screaming with words, of clashes and big, inky black fanfare.
i am stuck in a word that has been used and used a gazillion times before. the text, moulded from witty references. uuuupsss summm techniko tratra rattattum. schwitters, jandel: the intellectual space is limited no matter what i write.
the colour, a new one every time, and every time a new shadow unfolding on the paper in a manner so surreal.
censorship happens in the mind, but the eye and curiosity are free.
painting is like dreaming. it makes sense, is logical in its place, as long as we don’t try to rationalise it.
bang, the dream is over and i am awake. one last attempt to put the scraps of last night into words. hurry, hurry. with every tenth of a second i wait, whole chapters of dream material disappear forever.
painting means sleeping, or dreaming.
or, wait, no, living with art, contemplating pictures, stepping into these worlds made real – that is comparable to dreaming.
in dreams there is no why.
“every society honours its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.” (mignon mclaughlin)
he sweats, he grasps, he moans, in his lifetime he reaches for the stars.
isn’t the kingdom of heaven reserved for the dead?
is art like life?
the page is completely white. it is complete.
and now i give it a story, mine, any, its own. even the materials are vital. what paper to use, smooth? rippled, thin, high-grade, thick? what size. will it fit on a normal sized page. and what should i write the story with, a pencil, 3b, hb, 2h, a coloured pencil, chalk, acrylics, watercolours?
what does this all mean for life? are those our circumstances? or are they the tools that we were given to carry on our way. do we have a mission to fulfil? does a picture pursue an explicit goal?
is it about constructing one’s life in beauty and harmony like the portrait taking shape on the page.
and what of the smears, the fears and doubts, the inadequacies, the weaknesses that make a picture so “human”.
so, he reached for the stars.
his father, a swedish missionary of baptist persuasion on a tour to win new followers in deepest france. albi, the seat of a catholic archbishop, as religiously conservative as it gets. the father’s target audience, mostly portuguese, economic migrants, cheated of language and respect.
mother, a norwegian woman at her husband’s side. more about her later.
the father, speaking from the pulpit: my congregation, give your hearts to the lord.
he, a boy just barely three years old, asks his mother what that means.
mother: your heart belongs to jesus. it is your gift to the lord.
he, seeking a solution in peace: he can have my heart, but my head belongs to me.