Representational v abstraction

©Stuart Bush Hard to Concentrate, oil on board 30 x 40 x 3.5 cm
 
I remember watching the film Pulp Fiction, in that movie, there was a great power in the mystery of what was in the suitcase. In the film, we never find out. The mystery of not knowing was more powerful than knowing.  I see there is enormous potential for interpretation by the viewer.  I want to add mystery to my artwork so the viewer can interpret the work the way they see it.  The audience can bring their own intentions, baggage and ideas.   I want the viewer to look at the artwork and let their mind wonder.  
 
Representational art discusses drawing, handling of paint, skill, composition; it also can be used to communicate ideas and a subject.  The intention behind representational work is often clear for the viewer, but I have found it limited for discussing deeper philosophical challenges and felt it was holding me back.  
 
However, abstraction artwork is different in that is invites more commentary and mystery.  The viewer coasts across the surface trying to understand it and often falling short.  The viewer can often never be sure if they understand the artist’s intention.  The intention is often not what the work is about.  Instead while making the work the thinking and the doing are often inseparable where feeling and emotional responses are often significant in making the ‘art’ within work.
 
I want to create a space for instincts and accidents rather than the straightforward one-to-one representation. I want to feel and grab something real and put it in a painting.  I am interested in the space in the viewer’s mind as much as the space in the composition and the space that inspired the work.  Through an investigation of spatial structures in a pursuit of knowledge, I want to create a different way of looking and seeing the world.  I find it profoundly gratifying focusing on the place in-between forms; perceiving the image and watching it disappear into shapes, forms and space.  
 
The outcome is an artwork that is intended to work on many levels.  The clarity of the composition is comparable with the mark making: realising positive and negative, absence and presence in equal measure. The colours and forms produce and transmit a poetic meaning, an emotional state that invites interpretation. By creating an interpretation of space that cannot be communicated by words the work it acts a metaphor about what it means to alive today.  
 

Making better work than I did yesterday

©Stuart Bush, Strange Heart Sings, oil on board 30 x 40 cm
My idea of success is linked to what l have rather than what l haven’t.  It is common to hear of success being tied to financial wealth.  That isn’t success for me; profit does not drive my artwork.  I have the opportunity to discover who l am, to find my own voice, to find my true self through my art.  My goal is to make better work today than l did yesterday, it is as simple as that
 
I finished university in 2006 and when l look at my early paintings l can see l have taken small progressive steps each year.  Now over ten years later l know l have made significant progress. However, l feel as if l have been making the same painting for ten years, each time exploring my interest in seeing the body in space.  The concept of finding what my personal gift is and discovering my potential is more exciting than any material needs.  That is why l have chosen this life as an artist, or maybe it has chosen me. 
 
I see being an unknown artist as a positive thing.  It enables me to consider the long game, to build on each day and to go deeper to see what the ‘it’ is. Many of my paintings are built up gently in the studio.  Each painting supports the next one, thereby pushing me forward in a positive way.  I have a conviction, a commitment and the determination not to give up.  I believe strongly in what l am doing.
 
By doing art for myself, l can avoid criticism and avoid making commercial decisions.  This allows me to find a way forward without manufacturing art.  The art l make is more about emotions than constructions, more about art and poetry, and less about resolved ideas.  I want to make work for myself that l feel really passionate about,  l don’t want to dilute my work.  l want to make the decisions about what needs editing before the public see it.  I want my work to be the best that it can be.  I realise that this may divide the potential audience.  However, once the work is made public, it could potentially turn me into a public person. I’m not sure that l want that to happen.  I want to make work for a small audience that appreciates and supports my work
 
I am a figurative painter, and I want to get close to the source.  I want to make work within an intellectual framework inspired by my muse, my muse being my experience of the city. This framework is the key to the art within me, allowing me not to over thinking what l am doing and allowing me to initiate an inner response, thereby preventing me from being distracted by my head or my ego, competition with other artists or self-doubt.  Reflection comes later, after a period of time, when l can contemplate and think about what l have made.  
 
I want to make art is good as it can be. My competition is with myself and being better than yesterday.
 

Contemporary painting versus constructed reality

©Stuart Bush, Nobodies fault, oil on board 70.2 x 50.4 x 3.6cm
I have certainly had the feeling that there is some wrong with the world and I’m sure most people have. I recently watched the film ‘The Matrix’ (1999) again after reading the Guardian newspaper article titled, ‘Constructed reality: are we living in a computer simulation?’  I think it is unlikely that we are residing in a computer simulation, even though some people think it is true. Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla and Space X believes the probability that we are not all living in a simulated world is one in billions, but I think most people would not think too deeply about this argument. 
 
©The Matrix (1999) Warner Bros
The Matrix dialogue
Morpheus:  Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind – driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
 
I enjoy thinking about ideas that challenge what we believe to be true. It wasn’t that long ago we thought the earth was flat.  To try and find out what the purpose and meaning of life is and believe the simulation argument leads you down a rabbit hole.  I think it is impossible to verify and confirm whether it is true or not.  Life still matters, either way, we are still conscious and aware of our own existence, sensations and thoughts, we still have purposeful relationships and activities.  
 
A great approach is to follow your instincts by exploring, responding and make sense of this world.  Personally, the only way I can see to do this is through my relationship with making art. It feels natural to me through making art to look for a deeper level of meaning and value in our ordinary everyday lives. I am always looking for hidden depths of our deepest self.
 
I feel like I see the world differently and I see my ultimate goal as an artist is to locate and communicate this.  I would always feel incomplete if I tried to suppress this urge. It is a passionate engagement and something I have to do.
 
Braque said,”the only valid thing in art is which cannot be explained.”
 
Further reading:
Is our world a simulation?  Why some scientists say, it’s more likely that not.
 
Are you Living in a Simulation? By Nick Bostrom
 
The Matrix as Metaphysics by David J. Chalmers