By way of explanation for my absence and for this article, I should say this: I have written over 75,000 words on a novel in two months. As a result, I haven’t been doing a lot of drawing or painting lately, except an obligatory sketchbook whose contents aren’t really worth posting. Those drawings are simply hand exercises in my daily routine. Make bed. Wash dishes. Draw thing. Cook dinner. Shower.
It is when I write that I have transformed into my feverish and desperate artistic self, the me that happens when I open my mouth to say something that transcends my capacity to understand all at once. Even my verbal muse misses the visual expression, and so I have spent my web-surfing time looking at contemporary paintings, admiring my favorites, letting them move me, and parsing the message.
What they have said, in a remarkably tight zeitgeist-curated chorus, is that our bodies have gone somewhere and we are ambivalent about being abandoned. I see bones, wounds, amputations. I see animal parts, skins, heads. I see frozen faces, serene in their detachment, their emotions implied effectively in groundbreaking ways, but without the help of muscles and skin or smiles and eyes. I see trees, rooting and reaching.
In the lingering perfection of form, the insistence on symbolic representationalism, I see an unwillingness to take our bodies all the way back. Whatever it is that we have purchased at the cost of our own flesh is too costly to simply discard.
The message is that we want to be animals. We want to cut open our weird little synthetic shells and find out what is the most human thing about us. We want to experience our bodies, to frown and smile without typing a single parenthesis, to grow fur and get dirty. It is evident beyond visual art, even in the parlance. It used to be cool, then it was tight, now: the filthier the better.
We don’t have the words to express it, and if we did they wouldn’t fit into an email or a facebook status, so we are developing a system of hieroglyphs, an alphabet of images that we all somehow understand the minute we touch them with our eyes, the only part of us that regularly gets filthy.