|Addison Parks; WHIRLYBIRD(Higgs boson); 2010, oil on canvas, 14 x 10"|
When I paint I go on a hike and where I'm going is hopefully new and unknown to me, or has something new to show me. I may end up going in circles sometimes and may end up back where I started or some place I've been before, but I don't intentionally choose paths I've taken before. I want to get somewhere I've never been before. I'm not trying to surprise the viewer, I'm trying to surprise myself. If I go somewhere I have never been, then I have surprised myself and I've learned something. Where did I go, what did I learn, these are always my biggest questions.
I don't paint what I know. I paint what I don't know. I paint out of curiosity. You know, find the painting in the painting, so to speak. I never have a fixed idea what a painting is supposed to look like. I paint from a feeling, an idea, something that draws me forward. Again, I don't know what it is going to look like and I am hoping to be surprised. How brave I am or can be or have been is my challenge alone. No one else goes with me; I go alone. No one else knows. No one else can judge me, try as they might. It is between me and myself. I don't paint to make something beautiful or successful, but I do hope that in the end, wherever I get, both of those things on some deeply personal level.
If it is not however, I do not feel that it is a failure. What have I learned? Where did it take me? What can I still learn? These are such important questions for me. Which is why I am loath to destroy a painting. What would cause me to be so angry or unforgiving or destructive? If I absolutely hate a painting I have done, which seems unlikely, it would only be because I never went anywhere that meant anything to me, but hate wouldn't do it; if I hated a painting that would make me even more curious because hate can be very revealing since fear plays such a large part. I could really not care if someone else already felt they had been there. Why should that make a difference. Should I not go to Bali because other people have been there? If I say, hey I went to Bali and had a great time and I had never been there and it was all wonderful and new to me, but my friend's response was what? Been there, done that. Well then, I would say I have an asshole for a friend. And learned that! Learned something I hadn't quite figured out. Find another friend.
When I was in my 20s I had a show of 2 twenty foot murals at PS1(Now MoMA PS1). My first abstract murals. In oils. At the opening my friend and mentor Richard Tuttle's response was basically "all dressed up and no place to go." He actually said something about two beautiful cars in my back yard. A wry putdown. Not only was he less than a friend, he was less than honest. He had never been to that place I went and done what I did. Just because he may have known other people to go some where near I went, well, it is just his selfish agenda that he was always hunting for his "fresh meat." He was less than a friend to judge me and then be less than truthful and say, in effect, been there, done that. He had no idea where I went, and it was just pure ego for him to have to pretend that he had. Ego was Tuttle's big challenge and he was always trying to make it everyone else's problem while he was going through it. He lived in a dump because he was lusting after a penthouse, and hating everyone else for their penthouse and thinking everyone else should live in a dump too like him to experience dumpy so that they could experience humility they way he needed to. Don't you love people who want to go in the water but have to push other people in first to make sure it is safe or what they actually want to do? From Tuttle I learned to look out for that in myself and others, and believe in my own path. Did it suck?Absolutely. But I have learned from it. I may miss my friend but not that. Have I come across these people again? Yes. Are they dangerous? Yes. I just keep going if I can.
Don't get me wrong. When I show my work everyone is free to do what they like. I have no control over that and want none. Richard Tuttle was free to be as big an asshole as he could be in response to my work. He was free to do whatever his ego dictated, and I was free to do whatever I wanted with his response. That he was bad just meant he was a bad friend and no friend at all. Just to be clear, a friend is in your corner, rooting for you. If they say they are your friend and are not (in your corner), well, they are a liar, and not your friend, and you should probably have nothing to do with them. Also, beware of those who can only be in their own corner, for these are people who are fighting the whole world and they are dangerous. Not that being in your corner is a prerequisite for friendship, but it is just something you will find out sooner or later, and yes, it matters.
Addison Parks, Spring Hill
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