A print of this Van Gogh hangs in my new bedroom. Whoever moved out left it behind. I had this semi-profound moment a few days ago when I was in bed and I took the time to stop and really look at the image. Something about the room within a room (my room) struck me as beautiful. Before studying it, I didn’t have strong feelings either way about the print being on the wall, but now I think it’s fitting:
The bedroom in the yellow house at Arles was of importance to Vincent van Gogh who decorated the room as part of his plan to have other artists live there and he was joined by Gauguin for a short time. By presenting his own room, the artist revealed a sense of personality and brings forth his instability. Van Gogh settled in Arles in February 1888 and painted more than 200 canvases in 15 months.
200 canvases in 15 months! I plan to have an equally ridiculous 15 months…in which I will create things, learn things, experience things, and seek inspiration and pleasure in all sorts of people and things, including myself. And at the end of those months, perhaps I will find myself in a new place altogether. Like Arles. Or Alabama.
Earlier tonight I was reading a newspaper article about this artist Marlene Jorge and I like her art so far, but what really struck me was this one line about her. It kind of came out of nowhere toward the end of the article. It was all about her exhibit, a last minute painting that she’d done, stuff like that, and then the article goes, “She believes that the purpose of pop culture is to distract the audience from reality, and for Jorge, there is no better distraction than the exploration of human beings.”
That is so confusing! The terms ‘pop culture’ and ‘reality’ mean different things to different people. And they seem to mean different things to Marlene Jorge than they do to me. I agree that pop culture can distract from reality. But I also think pop culture has the power to make its audience painfully (or wonderfully) aware of reality. When I first read that line I thought it was saying that Jorge was against pop culture due to what she believes are its reality-distracting ways. But reading the confusing line again, it seems to be saying that Jorge is a proponent.
A lot of the time I use pop culture as a distraction, but I don’t think any of us would be so fascinated by it if it didn’t occasionally make us think about things. Heavy things. Things we don’t have a firm grip on. Things like reality!
I suppose every artist needs to have artistic theories that define their art. Exploring human beings will for sure be a huge part of the 200 canvases of my next 15 months. But exploring them to distract from reality?! That’s silly. Perhaps Jorge means reality in the sense of, like, the “harsh” realities of the world. But when I think reality I think like Wikipedia: “The term reality, in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.” Why would anyone want their art to distract people from incomprehensible, inobservable things?! Those are probably the most fascinating, most inspiring things I can think of: “Reality in this sense includes being and sometimes is considered to include nothingness.” GOSH! If my art, whatever form it takes, could cause people to stop and meditate upon nothingness…now that would be something.