Self-portraits as objective art by Rashid.
All images, watercolour on paper, 210 x 297 mm
What drives me to paint, you ask?
It’s the impulse to say what cannot be said – or written. I want to communicate what comes from silence; from tranquillity and exaltation. I think it’s sometimes called post-personal or objective art.
This story might illuminate the question. A Chinese emperor engaged the royal artist to paint a mural landscape in his palace. The artist worked in keen seclusion for a year. At last the emperor and his retinue stood before the image of a massive sky and mountains, forests, rivers, fields and lakes, birds and hidden animals. At last the emperor gestured to a path that started at the bottom of the mural and wound a drunken route into the distant hills. “Tell me honoured artist – where does this path lead?” The artist’s answer was to take the emperor by the arm and say, “Let’s explore together.” Side by side they stepped into the picture, growing ever smaller till they disappeared.
The destination of the artist and spectator is to disappear in contemplation of the work. Where there is ego there is no art. Art communicates the ineffable.
In this remote Devon hamlet where I live, nothing much has changed with Covid – just the shops come to us rather than we go to the shops. There should not be a conflict between Art and Life and yet I’ve always felt them pull me as separate, demanding masters – or is it mistresses? This split, referred to in the title, is both addressed and unified in the series of 24 paintings made during lockdown – some of which are re-presented here.
And how will my work develop? you further ask. We will have to walk together, you and I, into the next picture to discover what lies ahead.