Sunday, August 26, 2007

Juice: Shishkin and Cather

This is the first of a little feature called “Juice,” where I pair up an artist with a quote. Each has inspired me in some way or stimulated a new pathway of thinking. Please post a comment and share your thoughts.

“Artistic growth is, more than anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness.”

Quote by Willa Cather
Art by Ivan Shishkin


Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought that was a photograph!

The quote strikes me as odd, as truthfulness is what it is and cannot be qualified. If you qualify truth, it no longer becomes truth. And why would art necessarily be tied in with truth? There can be as much art in lies.

James Gurney said...

It strikes me as odd, too, because it seems paradoxical to think of truth as a property of fiction. But I believe it is, even in a work of art that is clearly imaginary or unrealistic. We speak of something "ringing true" if it is based on genuine observation of real life, rather than just being based on artistic conventions. I think that's what Cather meant, but I may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Art is so difficult to qualify or quantify with a few words. To me art is almost universal, art is one of the fundamental principles of humanity, that defines our sentience and our 'difference' from the other creatures of our world. Art is anything which evokes that which is not there. Words are just words, unless put in set order, in which case they mean more than they do by themselves. Movement is the same, until combined to form a dance. Speeches, poetry, painting, cartoons, literature, drama, mime, even simple expression and body language could be considered art, and how does one bulk all of these into a single category?

Art, for me, is this process of creating the illusion of something which is not, as well as clarifying what is, and while this could be called truthfulness, so can anything if you view it on a certain level. When paint touches canvas, a forest appears, yet there is no forest... just paint, on canvas. A sublime lie, maybe, rather than the evocation of truth?

I have to say, though, that my work comes mostly from pure fantasy, worlds in my head evolving and devolving by themselves. Influenced by our reality, of course, to not be is impossible, but not observationally influenced in the sense that many artists are. In my mind, the characters that appear and their homes and lives are as real as anything in this world, as true for me as anything else, but to the rest of the world they are just fiction. My truths are not absolute, to anyone else they are not, in fact, true.

Rather than blabbing on any further, I guess the hopefully now illustrated point is that truth is too difficult a topic to tackle in its entirety, and the truth itself isn't always true to anyone but you, so you end up with the paradox of trying to get across what YOU think or see is true by creating an intricate lie to trick other people into seeing the same...