Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Doors, Monks and the Questions of Life

Two stories of doors come to my mind today. The most recent is the discovery by some small theatre that Banksy had painted a mouse on the backstage door. The owner was unaware of its presence until the phone calls started to arrive offering to buy the doors. So in the early hours of the morning, 2 am I think, the owner and one of his employees went down to the said theatre and removed the doors and boarded up the space. They are still deciding what to do with this, “Work of art”. So in a moment Graffiti becomes art. or was it art before they took the door from its hinges?

The next door is the one on the cottage owned by Salvador Dali. He on the beach beside the cottage that he shared with his wife Gala that when the fishermen were cleaning their brushes, after painting their boats, they did this on any old piece of wood lying around. He asked them in the future to do this on the door of the cottage. After a passage of time he had the door removed and he applied his signature. The, “work of art” then sold for a price high enough to build an extension to the house.

So we still have that question. What is art?

There is a story of two monks on a journey together. They had a vow that they would not speak to females having taken a vow of chastity. Early one morning as they walked, after a nights rain, they met a young beautiful women dressed in a lovely Kimono. because of the rain the road ahead was covered in mud and she was standing wondering how to negotiate this obstacle. One of the monk lifted her in his arms and carried her over the hazard. On placing her back on her feet she was full of thanks. He spoke to her and said he was pleased that he was able to be of assistance.

For the rest of that day the two journeyed on. The monk who had carried the beautiful young girl spoke to his companion once or twice but received no reply. As the day drew to a close the monk eventually asked his companion. “Have I offended you? I have spoken to you more than once and each time you have ignored me”. The other monk then spoke. “Not only did you speak to that young beautiful girl, you carried her in your arms.” Ah said the first monk. But you see I only carried her for a moment. You have carried her in your heart all day.

How often we carry our garbage with us refusing to let go of the old prejudices and hang ups. Or we are like the person who goes to worship taking with them all the woes and baggage which they leave at the door of the place of prayer only to collect it all on the way back out.

Maybe this is a bit like finding the answer to the, “What is art?” question. Maybe we all have to open our eyes to what others see that we might be missing. Also maybe our own art will improve if we unclutter our thinking and allow the work to speak to us more. For me that might mean listening to the rules slowing down giving the work more thought, for others it might be the very opposite. it may mean stop all the angst over a painting and the touching and retouching. Having said that I have listened to a few people who have said to me that I did go a stage to far with the last painting I did. I just might go have another look.

So, What is Art? Has anybody got anything to add to the debate. Right I will go and collect my baggage and get on with my day. Ha ha.

Can I say at  that this blog never ever sets out to upset or offend but to open up routes for discussion. Ralph

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