Popular opinion suggests that creative people often experience tumultuous emotions. They can be prone to bouts of depression or be guilty of some sort of ‘madness.’ I think that the ‘artist as emotional being’ is very simplistic. Artists don’t simply create whilst buffered from one emotion to another, catastrophe after catastrophe.
Art is also about prodding and provoking the imagination. It’s not all angst and demons. Artists can reflect realities that are derisive, deviant, delusional or the opposite. Sometimes we forget that it is the artwork, not the artist that is on display. Some artists see creativity as a godlike quality, the ability to fill a void. Perhaps these artists are more interested in shaping the viewers understanding than seeing art as a thought provoking catalyst. Even the act of titling a work can become a limitation, a boundary. Instead of providing the viewer with the opportunity to independently and freely connect to the work – his imagination becomes channeled as the title subscribes a view and understanding.
Artists can be visionary, imagining a world with a different reality and hopefully inspiring introspection within viewers as they consider their own reality. If artists need to be free spirited then surely they also need to tap into viewers ability to become free spirited, even if for just a moment.
Artists often choose to live and reflect a reality that is non conformist or ‘bohemian’. A non conformist will find it easier to pose alternatives when looking in from the outside. A voyeur. Never quite belonging, committing or participating yet actively engaging. A bohemian will create the life that everyone secretly desires or wants to aspire to. Lives filled with passion, living on the edge and the search for poetic justice.
People often mistakenly assume that artists stand out because they want the infamy or attention. That the artist alienation is simply madness or posturing. But artists need to explore a free spirited space where they can test their thoughts and develop their concepts without society’s boundaries.
The next time you think of an artist as mad, be aware that they might simply be showing you the middle finger.