I listened to an interview with South Australian emerging artist Anneliese Forster yesterday. Anneliese is an abstract painter. She spoke in the interview about her process, that is; trying to capture the immediate feeling of a given moment in time; painting organically inspired by emotion or atmosphere; responding to immediate stimuli like music, poetry and the like.
It could have been me speaking about my core approach to my own abstraction. As I took some notes, it became increasingly clear that what I am doing, about which I’ve been inordinately excited, isn’t anything particularly new or ground-breaking. That’s OK. There’s no need for me to panic. If I’d really thought about it before, I would have known that was true. I just hadn’t really thought about it.
In some small way, I think we all like to imagine we’re a little bit different – that what we do or what’s in our head is occasionally new or interesting. That is absolutely true. Don’t ever think that I’m saying we’re all the same. I have been reminded, though, that somewhere, someone may be similarly different, might also be coming to a realisation that aligns with ours. That’s OK, again. There’s no need for us to panic, again. It’s a big world and there’s room for us all.
So, with regard to the art, how do I ensure that my practice is still special given that someone else, in my backyard no less, is approaching things the same way? I think I need to ensure that I paint as truly myself, distill what makes me me and explore from that starting point. Anneliese’s terrific work will be hers and mine will be mine and they will be different enough for both to have value in the larger art world.
So, I return to the canvas with renewed enthusiasm. I can’t expect to be the only person who thinks like me but I can be the only person who paints like me and, even if others do paint like me, they won’t be actually painting what is me. It’s challenging to be pushed like that but it’s comforting that all is still worthwhile.