I have always been reluctant to view and review art from an intellectual point of view. Indeed it is important to understand context and biography in an artwork; but I do feel that we've intentionally been missing something, something profound that cannot be boxed in mere intellectual constructs.
It's no secret that I have been through my own psycho-therapeutic journey - a lot of it aimed toward unlocking emotions. And it's also no secret that I have had experiences with healing psychedelics/psychotropics. Though all of these, I have gained an immense appreciation in the "experience" of beauty - that emotive power it holds - and how we as artists have the privilege of chronicling these experiences. I have come to believe that our works stir something more in the heart than in the head.
Not quite hippy, new age dogma I preach. But what I do know is that it's in beauty that I have experienced the closest to opening up a frozen heart.
Imagine, at the corner of your eye while walking down the seaside, you glimpse a golden sunset. It catches you off guard, you gasp and suddenly blanked in a sense of awe. Your thoughts, your neurosis, your worries and regrets, in that brief instant, vanishes, and you're suddenly in just WOW. I mentioned before, it is probably the closest to enlightenment that I've experienced; it is in these moments that I personally feel connected to everything, that non of my bullshit matters.
That is, perhaps, why I choose the be an artist. It is an amazing opportunity to get healed, to step out of the conditioning that we have experienced, and to just be. To be full, and perhaps grateful, that we are offered a special window to a divine space. That we can then capture it and share it to a wider audience. And in all our intention-filled works, we also capture emotions and feelings and offer this to an audience who, perhaps, have been starved, as modern life has been more of an assault to the intellect. Beauty is feeling and emotion, and that brings colour and healing to anyone's life.
One of the first things that people ask for when interviewing an artist (or when applying for a commission), is their “artist statement”. And I knew that this was a major block that I had when I was starting, knowing that I was just figuring out who I was, not just as an artist, but also as a person. I have read through a lot of how-to’s on the subject, but to no avail – the first few statements I created did not come out as authentic.
You see, I grew up in a society where who I truly am was not nourished nor valued. As “trophy kids” or achievers, we were raised to specifically bring pride and prestige to our families through university degrees, awards, academic distinctions and, inevitably, a titled job (in my case, as an architect). But no matter how much I accomplished, it felt empty, even depressing. These are all hollow accomplishments that never really touches one’s true self.
This is where art, and being an artist, comes into the picture. For me, it is not just about the romantic notions of Michaelangelo or Da Vinci’s creative endeavours. For me, with a fragile sense of self that I had, this was refuge, this was salvation, this was my truth.
Art connected me to who I was inside. This was made clearer with my own experiences with Ayahuasca and other consciousness-expanding substances. In my psychedelic journeys, I found that inner being that was kept asleep. And through a whole tug-of-war of emotional recovery, I found that it was in art that I have a voice to express who I truly was. It is in art that I found myself. Art was the one thing that I wasn’t trained in growing up, when I reflect on it, and I have always grown up having an innate confidence and sureness in the art that I create.
And how beautiful it was to, in these experiences where my consciousness was opened, that I have found a bigger realization. My journeys have shown me that it is in beauty that we have a glimpse of enlightenment. All neurotic thoughts dissipate when we are awe-struck on seeing beauty, may it be in nature or in artistic creations. It is in art that every one of experiences release and emotional repose.
I have seen that my life was no longer just about self-centered, empty endeavours. I was given a peek into the bigger universe where I and everyone else are connected harmoniously, in beautiful, calm serenity. By painting and writing about them, I am given the privilege to share this amazing, and inevitably healing, journey to people.
This is my true artist’s statement, and my artistic mission.