Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Friday, November 27, 2020 07:51:48 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Painting the Pandemic

It's possible to be more creative

By
11th-Nov-2020       
Share
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Print
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Dr. Friedberg M.D :
"I'm so damn frustrated," said my patient Paul.  He actually wanted to talk in person because, he insisted, "all this virtual stuff is ruining my life."  Paul was an artist whose first gallery show was postponed from May to November. The gallery that represents him was closed from March to August and, on reopening, had reassigned his show its place in the queue.  In the interim, some of his work was posted online but, according to Paul, "no one buys an artist they don't know from just looking at digital images."  What Paul hoped would be his breakthrough was, in his mind, a dud. The pandemic has postponed a lot of events like, for example, big splashy weddings.  But in Paul's case, this show was to be a coming out, an affirmation of his identity as a legitimate, practicing artist.  "It's on a par with when I came out as gay," he said.  "It's my identity."  He thought that when people saw his work - and bought it - they'd be affirming that identity.  In his view, being an artist wasn't just painting per se; it was interacting with people who love you and love what you do.  "I've been waiting so long for this moment, and now I have to wait six months more."    
The wait was especially significant to Paul because he'd waited so long to start painting in the first place.  Now in his mid-30s, he'd started off as a Civil Engineer.  "I built bridges and highways," he said.  "Big stuff."  He'd always loved lines and precision - the way pieces fit together and click into place.  Civil engineering seemed like a good fit.  But as he began to practice, and joined a firm, he'd felt isolated.  "It's a very macho profession.  The guys who design the bridges have this affinity for the guys who build them."  As a gay man, he didn't feel part of the culture.  He began wondering what else he could do.
In his late 20s, he started taking classes at the Art Students League, the storied West Side institution whose alumni include Winslow Homer, Thomas Hart Benton, Maurice Sendak, Helen Frankenthaler, Thomas Hoving, Mark Rothko, Peter Max . . . towering figures in American art.  It was instant acceptance all around.  "After about a week, I knew that I belonged.  I couldn't get enough."  By the time he'd finished studying, he'd begun to develop a distinctive style.  "I wasn't just abstract or figurative.  I was somewhere in the middle, but with very clear outlines."
Paul's training in math and engineering had set him apart from the other students and, right away, he'd set off on a personal adventure.  His teachers didn't always know what to do with him, but they saw that he had talent and they'd let him develop it.  "The great thing about the League," he said, "is that they don't straightjacket you."  Paul's been on his own now for a couple of years, so when he finally got the gallery show he was ecstatic.
"I know I'm good," he told me.  "I don't need validation.  What I do need is to get known."  Paul wanted to become part of the art world, with his works auctioned off at Christie's.  He wanted his work to be photographed, discussed, featured in Artforum.  He had fantasies of Chinese billionaires giving him commissions.  "Maybe when John Grisham writes his next novel about some killer law firm, they'll have my work on the walls."  While I suppressed a smile, I realized quickly that Paul was not an egotist.  Rather, he felt that he'd built an identity - sort of the way he'd carefully design a bridge - and he wanted to live that identity to the max.
The delay was a delay in making his identity manifest.
It was also having collateral, more pernicious effects.  Paul said that during this period of protracted waiting - to which he now added the year or so of waiting until he'd found a gallery to represent him - he'd been unable to paint with the same intensity that he'd displayed while at the League.  "You know," he said, "other people are part of who you are, and if they're not around to encourage you then you're can't be all of who you are."  He cited Andy Warhol and The Factory, the group with Andy at the center that revolutionized art in the '60s.  "I'm not fully inhabiting my identity," he said. So, the question was how to tide Paul over from late August to November when, he was sure, his show would bring sales, commissions, and the buzz that he needed. I reassured him that his was a common predicament. Creative people frequently run out of energy when they're isolated.  Their logical minds can taunt them - "hey, why bother if nobody knows and nobody cares?"  We're can be our own worst enemies, questioning our place in a vast jigsaw puzzle that's perpetually under construction.  So, I told him "Look, you've waited this long, you can wait a few months longer.  In the meantime, try to think of yourself as preparing for your reception."  I thought that if he looked forward to being recognized (rather than backward at all the downtime), he'd rev himself up and paint furiously.  "Don't you want to be ready?" I asked.       
The pandemic is a study in delay and postponement.  One patient told me, "I feel six months younger than I am. The past six months didn't happen."  But we can't just suspend who we are.  We have to act as if the world is coming to meet us - sooner or later, but eventually.  In Paul's case, at least he has a pretty firm date.
I suggested that instead of fretting, he could perfect his technique.  I've seen photos of Paul's work, and I was impressed.  There is an intriguing tension between the figurative and abstract elements that seemed to waiver - sometimes one element seemed to be favored, sometimes the other.  "Does this represent a tension in how you want to represent the world?" I asked.  "Maybe it's something worth considering."
Paul said that every painting was its own unique take on the world, and that maybe he really hadn't worked out some larger vision.  "Maybe I need to think about that. I know that I like outline, but I should probably figure out how I approach shape."  That sounded interesting, and like a useful way to be productive with his time.  I pointed out that theorizing one's work is often a late development, after one has enough actual work to think about.  "Sounds like this is a good time to start," I said.
As we emerge from the first acute stages of this pandemic, and try to recapture some sense of living in a present that actually does "happen," it's important to figure out what we can actually do to make it happen and to connect with the future.  Paul's initial option - waiting for the other shoe to drop - wasn't much of an option at all, and seemed in practice to be self-defeating.  If we are going to look to the future, we have to be ready for it.  We have to make ourselves ready for it.

Tariff

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Signing FTA with ASEAN nations needs cautious move


REPORTS in a national daily said signing of free trade agreement (FTA) with individual countries or external trade blocs particularly with ASEAN countries figured prominently in discussion in foreign office on Sunday. The issue is quite sensitive and also timely as Bangladesh will cease to get duty free market access ...

International »

Cyclone Nivar tears down power lines, trees in India


Reuters, Chennai :A severe cyclone slammed into India's southern coast early on Thursday, uprooting trees and power lines, but there was little loss of life or extensive damage to property.Cyclone Nivar made landfall near the city of Puducherry in the southern state of Tamil Nadu with winds of up to ...

Sports »

Fans of Maradona wailing in Argentina on Wednesday after death of Diego Maradona.


.

Business & Economy »

Syed Waseque Md Ali, Managing Director of First Security Islami Limited, inaugurating its two sub-branches at Panditsar Bazar and Battoli Bazar in Noria in Shariatpur and Battoli Bazar in Fazilpur in Feni on Wednesday respectively through virtually. Md. Mustafa Khair, AMD, Md. Zahurul Haque, DMD and other high officials of the bank were also present.


.

Editorial »

Proposed DAP should include provision of protecting city waterbodies


DESPITE LGRD Minister Tajul Islam's last Sunday assurance that Dhaka will be transformed into a modern and liveable city, the proposed Detailed Area Plan (DAP) for the capital is facing severe criticism from architects and urban planners. The flawed DAP, if implemented, will banish 70% of natural waterbodies and flood ...

International »

World renews Afghanistan aid with ceasefire call, conditions


AFP :Donors demanded an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan on Tuesday as they pledged around $12 billion in aid over four years-but tied their money to civil rights being upheld in peace talks with the Taliban.At a virtual global donor conference hosted from the UN in Geneva, countries affirmed their commitment ...

Sports »

Murray backs compulsory vaccine programme for tennis tournaments


AFP, London :Andy Murray said Tuesday that tennis players should be required to have a coronavirus vaccination before they are allowed to take part in tournaments.With the 2021 tennis schedule facing inevitable issues with the Covid-19 pandemic, three-time Grand Slam winner Murray hopes the long-awaited vaccine will be available by ...

Business & Economy »

Md. Jasim Uddin Akond, President of ICMAB and Shams Mahmud, President of DCCI, exchanging the MoU signing document at ICMAB Bhaban in the city on Tuesday.


.

City »

State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami at the bilateral meeting on joint invetment in Information and Technology Sector at ICT Tower in the city on Tuesday.


Editorial »

Fraudsters are dominating EC to get NIDs


PEOPLE are facing immense suffering in availing NID card related services, including its correction, due to indifference of the concerned Election Commission officials. As per a report of our daily many applicants for NID services have to face innumerable obstacles. They include apathy and a complete lack of interest on ...

Football »

German Football Assoc officials demand Mueller's return


The future of struggling German national coach Joachim Loew remains uncertain.The German Football Association (DFB) has set a December 4 deadline for the 60-year-old to present a convincing plan for next year's Euro and an analysis of the disastrous 6-0 defeat against Spain in the last Nations League encounter.Loew is ...

Cricket »

Annoying to lose Test series against India: Paine


Red-ball captain Tim Paine has admitted the "annoying" Test series defeat to India still "grinds" him, adding that Australia now has a better all-round side which is pumped up to take on the holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.India had stunned Australia 2-1 to win their maiden Test series Down Under ...

International »

New York City's first black mayor David Dinkins dies


The first and only black mayor of New York City, David Dinkins, has died at the age of 93.Officers were called to his home on Monday evening, New York police were quoted by the Associated Press (AP) as saying. Initial indications were that he died of natural causes.The son of ...

Business & Economy »

SBL gets new AMD


Business Desk :Md. Touhidul Alam Khan joined Standard Bank Limited as Additional Managing Director on Tuesday. Prior, he was the Deputy Managing Director of Prime Bank Limited. Khan did his Masters in Finance from University of Dhaka and started his career with Agrani Bank Limited as Senior Officer in 1993, ...

Entertainment »

Kajol hosts an Instagram live session for her followers


Kajol spread positivity amongst the fans with her outgoing personality. Over the past few years, the actress has been directly connecting with the fans through her off social media platforms. From hosting Ask Me Anything sessions on Instagram, to Chai And Gupshup With Kajol, on Twitter, the actress keeps on ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news