I was at a gallery opening yesterday visiting a friend whose
sculptural work was being featured. Among her sculpture were
several 2D artists whose work hung on the wall. My husband
wandered over to one of them, while studying it closely, the
gallery owner came over and began to explain about the work. It
was sort of a sculptural 2d piece with two hands, a river rock
and some feet in reddish tones. The artist, the gallery owner
explained, had been tortured in Vietnam and the painting
represented his efforts of escaping the war by climbing through
jungles and over rocks until his feet and hands bled.
Dave had been admiring the skillful and artful way in which the
paint and rocks had been applied and composed. He was completely
enjoying this painting until he heard the story and then was
totally turned off.
Later that night we got into a long discussion about carthetic
art and the need for an artist to express those hidden feelings
in a manner which (hopefully) allows us to stay off the shrink’s
couch. It wanders into my dicourse on how much and how little my
work, if expressing an emotional experience, needs to be
explained, and, most importantly, who is going to do the
explaining. There is no way that I could experience the pain of
the artist in Vietnam, and my husband, a potential buyer for that
artwork, unless he was a Vietnam vet, could understand. I
created a body of work in artschool, which for me, was a
carthetic piece working out an experience when I was in a fire
and was badly burned. It was a spooky piece (as my husbands
states), and I think the piece was more for me than anyone else.
On the other hand, I have a huge painting in my living room (no
it doesn’t match my sofa) called Prison Fire. This painting
completely resonates with my experience from the visual and
rather dark subject matter. It is the only painting I have ever
Now that I am starting a new long-term body of work, these
questions keep popping in my mind. Although I can’t think of
anything in the new work which could be labeled “carthetic”, when
I step back, I realize that much or all of it is. But the work
comes more from a place of joy and humor and metaphor.
So I put it to you folks, what are your thoughts if any?