Archive for September 9th, 2017

The painting shown here is new and will be accompanying me next Saturday, September 16, to the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk there. It’s 11″ by 15″ on paper and is called The Understanding.

It’s a piece that that has really appealed to me in the studio over the past few weeks as I have been able to take it in. It has a sense of what I think is understanding in it. Not knowledge or wisdom but simple understanding. Just a moment of self-realization of knowing that you are a part of this world, a piece of the puzzle. There are no answers attached but there is solace in knowing that you have a place in this world in which to stand just as you are. A sense of belonging without answers or wisdom or any knowledge of the world beyond that which immediately surrounds you.

I was trying to find a piece of writing that fit this thought and came across the following from the classical Greek philosopher Socrates. It very much summed up what I was thinking as a result of this painting. Plus, as an artist, I have sometimes been given the benefit of attributes that I haven’t earned simply because people see my own desire for those things in my work. I want wisdom, I want inner peace and goodness but, to be honest, I don’t know how to get to that point and may not even know those things when I come across them.

As Socrates says:  I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.

That’s understanding.


“I examined the poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and others, people who present themselves as wise men and are taken as such, when they are nothing of the sort.

From poets, I moved to artists. No one was more ignorant about the arts than I; no one was more convinced that artists possessed really beautiful secrets. However, I noticed that their condition was no better than that of the poets and that both of them have the same misconceptions. Because the most skillful among them excel in their specialty, they look upon themselves as the wisest of men. In my eyes, this presumption completely tarnished their knowledge. As a result, putting myself in the place of the oracle and asking myself what I would prefer to be — what I was or what they were, to know what they have learned or to know that I know nothing — I replied to myself and to the god: I wish to remain who I am.

We do not know — neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I— what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it. As a result, all this superiority in wisdom which the oracle has attributed to me reduces itself to the single point that I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.”


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