It’s been a while since my last post due to the distraction of employment. I’ve been working. For money. And that’s good but it means I have less time for more important things like painting, blogging, pondering the universe and staring at my bonsai trees. I’m a little sad to think about the looming possibility of permanent, full time employment and the limitations that will place on my art practice but money brings other freedoms.

 

Since my last post and my renunciation of my membership to the negative cynics club, I have been haunted by a dreadful word: sentimental. It conjures up ideas and images vastly opposed to that post-modern, disaffected, cool club that I have sought for so long to be a part of. How can I address love, joy, enchantment and celebration with out it being classified as maudlin, mawkish and bathetic? How can I paint the sweetness of flowers tenderly yet with strength and conviction, and in my own way critical of those things I find untenable? To be classified as sentimental is surely an insult and cause for great embarrassment. So in my time of trouble I turned to the big book, the dictionary. Sentimental is defined as: “weakly emotional; mawkishly susceptible or tender” and “artificially or affectedly tender; — often in a reproachful sense” “addressed or pleasing to the emotions only, usually to the weaker and the unregulated emotions.” These are the familiar negative definitions but there is also something about “sentimental” that appeals to me: “The tender emotions and feelings, as love, pity, or nostalgia” and “romantic, tender; characterized by refined feeling.” Perhaps the biggest irritation  to contemporary thinkers: “containing a moral reflection” After digesting these I am beginning to understand my position. It’s not sentimentality, cynicism, or even abject reflections on nihilism that I am opposed to, it is artificiality – which is dishonesty.  Rather than making ambitious, clever work I want to unravel what is important in life and make work that honestly reflects that. For now I want to address sweetness and beauty; images of loved ones, some flowers, some children, what ever stirs my soul. To dwell on the misery and gloom that shouts from every newspaper may be current but to focus on that without any reference to hope and redemption would be untruthful. I’m choosing not to ignore the grim realities, but in my experience they are inferior to love, domestic bliss and enchantment with beauty. It’s all very sentimental but that’s ok by me.

Ko Mauao te Maunga_____2008, oil on canvas, 502 x 705mm.

Ko Mauao te Maunga_____2008, oil on canvas, 502 x 705mm.

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