It’s a known fact that most artists can’t survive without subsidies, bursaries or other ways of funding. A lot of famous artists became famous after their deaths. Maybe the reason for this was that their work was not understood during their life. Their work became important when the art critics and public became aware of the revolutionary way the painter saw the world through his/her eyes. The most famous example of course is Vincent van Gogh.
To me the art world is a strange place; I can understand why Grayson Perry won the Turner price but I don’t have a clue why Tracey Emin’s ‘My bed’ was bought by Charles Saatchi for £ 150,000.
Grayson Perry’s work, especially his series of portraits has got everything I expect from an artist; a revolutionary way of expressing what a portrait entails. He not only shows the ‘outside’ of a person, but gives an inside of what that person is about. He created a new concept of the meaning of a ‘portrait’.
Tracey Emin showed what her bed looks like after spending a few days depressed in bed. The idea of showing one’s personal distress in this way might be new, but personally I don’t see any revolutionary concept here; the meaning of ‘a bed’ or ‘the bedroom’ hasn’t changed for me but the art world has changed the meaning of art considerably.
I myself am a long life sufferer from strong mood changes and so are many others. My life in itself is not an art form. The way I deal with it is through art. And it is not always the depression I show; working with vibrant colours makes me feel better, it literally gives me a buzz. It’s like smelling a flower, in trance while dancing or smashing clay into shape. That in itself is not art. The art comes with the new ways of interpreting the reality or the subject. And this comes from the inner world; the rejection of conventions, discarding of rules and regulations, creating something which comes from the soul AND the mind.
Now, what if nobody likes my work? Then, of course, I have no income, no life to sustain. Should I against all odds go on? Or should I start painting objects, portraits or things that people like in the colours that match their furniture, or maybe both? In the past I have done 2 commissions; one of dogs and one of people. The owners are happy with the result, but for me depression set in. Not because I can’t do it but because it doesn’t feed me; it only sucks the energy out of me.
Making a living out of painting seems impossible to me but in the past living a life always seemed impossible to me. I couldn’t hold on to a job for longer than one and a half year and ‘ate’ my salary before I was fit enough for another job.
I have been painting now for over 6 years and suffer considerably less from mood swings. Some of my friends and family are kind enough to me to give me some financial support to survive. It’s not perfect, but considering my past it’s a hundred percent improvement. I wouldn’t mind to sell my bed for £ 150,000 to a collector though. I think by writing this I have made up my mind.
Maaike Pope Zurcher