Wednesday, 14 November 2012

ideas and animals

" Ideas are often as stubborn as shy animals. They retreat when you reach for them, won't come when you call and refuse to be lured at all. But at some point, without your having done anything, they are abruptly there, calm and quiet, yet suddenly clear and strong"

This from the introduction to an exhibtion of the work of the American artist Kiki Smith, at the Barbara Gross Galerie in Munich.

I understand only too well  the elusive nature of ideas, and the futility of blundering pursuit. At present I am waiting, standing silently amongst the grasses at the edge of the forest, hoping that a shy wild beast might come to me, that an idea may appear in my mind, and that I have the resources to articulate it in terms of a drawing. I have not been thus visited for a period of three years,  and am pining for the shape of an idea to assert itself, to emerge from hiding as it were, just as, years ago, whilst living at the lodge and walking in the woods, a female dear appeared before me on the track, slipping gracefully from cover to pause in quiet appraisal, before disappearing once more.

It is intriguing to note that the image of the hind appears regularly in Smith's work, drawn with a sensitive awareness of the creature's consummate wildness, it's nervous liquidity, as though it may slip from view at any moment.

The gallery introduction goes on to state that Kiki Smith uses the visual metaphor of the light bulb to suggest the incandescent frailty of inspiration, the force which illuminates but which can dissipate without warning, the light bulb lying in fragments at one's feet. Her drawings are beautiful, possessed of a delicate naivete and fragility of line, an economy of gesture, expressing the force of an idea, yet also it's vulnerability. They pose the notion that inspiration is  achieved not in isolation, but  instead is the fruit of collaboration with others, requiring the openess and readiness of mind to engage in dialogue.

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