Why am I painting this?: To learn from Manet about being bold and presenting more than just a painting, but an issue.
I just watched an amazing documentary of Manet, one of the father’s of Impressionism. His paintings looked like portraits or scenes, but they were more like an editorial of deep political/internal issues of the times with carefully placed figures and object that hold meaning. Often they were “unacceptable” to be judged by the art society of that day, which put Manet’s entire career on the line. Still he sought to speak through his paintings, and I think that is a part of what’s missing in my art as well. A reason. Often, I paint nature, simply because I love it so much. However, sometimes a question or issue burns in all of us, and for the artist, it’s his/her job to express. So, I’m taking the risk of opening myself up to controversial issues and raising questions in others. If I’m going to be an “artist” with character, I have to be willing to speak.
This scene depicts several of what I think are very real issues today. Modernization and luxury seem to place us in a virtual reality and disconnect us with the original sources of information. There are four subjects in this painting: God (presented as the sun), Religion/Spirituality (presented as Christ), People, and Technology. All of these are in one location connecting them, but they are disconnected. There are three sources of illumination, nature, spirituality and technology, all three which may present an entire set of beliefs for different people. While nature and spirituality depend on the sun for “illumination”, what about us? Where is our spirituality headed? Not even the campers themselves seem to realize what each other is doing. (Yes, we’ve all seen the table full of texters at a restaurant). Nature teaches balance and reality. Spirituality presents the opportunity to understand beyond what we see; to understand our character. Technology is presenting the biggest source of information we’ve ever known and new ways to connecting us, but can it be also pulling us apart? So, ultimately this begs the single question:
How much is too much?
Regardless of my own personal beliefs, the reason for painting this is to force the viewer to question him/herself. As an artist, if we don’t remember why we’re painting, it’s just paint. The power of painting has changed history. I think this is something we should all strive for.