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Posts Tagged ‘Albert Camus’

GC Myers- BetweenA man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.

-Albert Camus

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These lines above are from an essay, Between Yes and No,  written by the French Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus.  It basically states, in sometimes grim detail, his belief that art “exalts and denies simultaneously.”  In short, truth is generally somewhere in the middle, never absolutely in yes or no.  Yes or no is generally an oversimplified view.

While I may not fully understand all the subtleties of Camus’ essay, I do fully agree with the premise as I see it in my own simplified way.  I think that art communicates best when it contains both the yes and the no— those polar oppositions that create a tension to which we react on an emotional level.  For example, I think my best work has come when it contains opposing elements such as optimism tinged with with the darkness of fear or remorse.

Yes and no.

I guess it’s this thought that brought the title for the new piece ( 4″ by 4″ on paper)  at the top which I call Between. Simply put,  I see it as the Red Tree being torn between the nebulous  desire of the Moon’s promise set against the security of its earthly home, represented by the patchwork quilt-like look of the surrounding landscape.  Between the unknown and known.

Somewhere in between the yes and the no…

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Exiles--QuartetWe all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.

Albert Camus

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I have written about and showed a number of the pieces from my early Exiles series here on this blog.  It was a very important group of work for me in that it was the first real break towards forming my own voice, creating and displaying work that was emotional for myself.  It was also the work that spawned my first solo show in early 1997.

The inspiration for this work was mainly drawn from the experience of watching my mother suffer and die from lung cancer over a short five or six month period in 1995.  Her short and awful struggle was hard to witness, leaving me with a deep sense of helplessness as I could only wish that there was a way in which I could somehow alleviate her pain.  Most of the work deals with figures who are in some form of retrospection or prayer, wishing for an end to their own suffering.

But another part of this work was drawn from my own feelings of emotional exile, a feeling of estrangement in almost every situation.  I had spent the better part of my life to that point  as though I didn’t belong anywhere,  always on the outside viewing the world around me as a stranger in a strange land,  to borrow the words of that most famous biblical exile, Moses.  These figures were manifestations of that sense of inner exile that I carried with me.

Little did I know that these very figures would help me find a way out of this exile.  With their creation came a sense of confidence and trust in the power of my self-revelation.  I could now see that the path from the hinterlands of my exile was not in drawing my emotions more and more inward, allowing no one to see.  No, the path to a reunion with the world was through pouring this emotion onto the surface of paper or canvas for all to see.

This is hard to write and I am struggling with it as I sit here this morning.  I started writing this because I had been reconsidering revisiting this series, creating a new generation of Exiles.  But in pondering this idea I realized that the biggest obstacle was in the fact that I no longer felt so much a stranger in a strange land.  I no longer felt like the Exile, no longer lived every moment with these figures.  It turned out that they were guides for me, leading me back to the world to which I now feel somewhat connected, thanks to my work.

If there is to be a new series, they will most likely not be Exiles.

The piece shown here, Quartet,  is one of my favorites, a grouping of four figures.  You may not see it in these figures but the visual influence for this work were the carvings found on Mayan ruins of Mexico and Central America.  I myself see this mainly in the figure at the bottom right.

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