This week, I’ve continued my work on my largest work in my series exploring the motif of the tree, and trees. This latest work has officially been named, an important step for me as expressing in words for me is almost as beautiful as in paints. When one names something, for that moment one captures something fleeting. Those words do not define it, and hovering around the painting are an almost infinite number of other possibilities.
All art is, simply, a series of choices the artist makes. The choices may have gone otherwise, and I sometimes muse that perhaps the ones that were not conjured into life were, in some parallel universe, actually created. Consider the infinite possibilities that raises, as every moment a new artwork springs into life, somewhere and somewhen in a universe.
As an artist, I try to make sense of these choices by carefully sifting through my ideas and emotions, cross-referencing them, trying to catch them by surprise from a new angle, burying them and then digging them up to uncover perhaps the “truth” of what I want to express, and why I think it is worth creating, or saying, and how to express it.
Consider the way the number of potential meanings explode when other observers enter the picture, from a “nothing” that contained all the possibilities, to a selection of definitions in the mind of the viewer. The rush of connections that are provoked by artworks is a profoundly human experience, as far as I know.
What It Is So, in naming my new work Al Fresco, I am on the surface referencing certain things. I am, obviously, referencing fresco art which is the visible cherry on the cake. Obviously, the style is fresco-like, with peeling, faded patches, mottled surface like plaster and so on, and the idea of being outside, as in a picnic al fresco, in the park.
What It is Not In this work, what is not in the words of the name is the exquisite balance of the Japanese adoration of cultivated and uncultivated nature. The refined appreciation of the ability of a colorset to evoke human memory and emotion. The ultimate death of the fresco as it fades, inevitably, over time, and the fact that even this most solid of wall will be gone in the blink of a Universal eye. The repetition of beautiful Spring, each year, and the rebirth that comes with it, the phallic branch. The rhythm and patterns on the surface of the canvas that views like music in the human mind. The first time a child sees and appreciates a Spring day for what it is.
I could go on.
But, when finished, it will be the viewers mind that goes on, that loops in references and ideas. Ultimately, the aim of this work is to summarize all these experiences as one image, for the viewer to uncover and continue creating. By choosing to paint my expression, I leave the physical experience of the object as an image on a canvas as the final definition, not the words of the title.
How much should I express in the title, just how important is it? For me personally, words are important and therefore maybe the titles should be important to me. They are important. Can I, and should I, consider the titles of the works more carefully, with greater craft? What would does a ‘good title’ of an artwork look like?
After all, what’s in a name?