Like many of my contemporaries (well, those that bother to study art history beyond the required college courses); I have an equal affection for both Raphael and the Pre-Raphaelites. Now considering how much time and effort the Pre-Raphaelites put into disparaging artists like Raphael… that’s quite a conundrum. But this is a perfect example of the cliché: ‘Hindsight is 20/20’. I can observe both of the previous mentioned movements from a rather safe distance and draw from them what I need to continue my own personal growth as a painter.
But who do I look to more recently as inspiration? I have stated before that I feel a new movement needs something stronger than just an exact individual style to hold it together - to sustain itself as a movement of enduring significance. Personally speaking, I have put a tremendous amount of effort into developing my own very unique style and handmade inks/paints. I am guarded about the exact recipe of my mixing formulas and even as to the specific manner in which I apply paint to paper. The purpose of this secrecy is the fact that I have spent a number of years developing my work and style and I would prefer that someone else didn’t come along and copy my process and whip out some competition. The art market is cut-throat; my unique style is my edge. So from both a guarded position and a realistic approach I realize that relying purely on style as a measure of direction for a new “art movement” will eventually be its undoing. The path to a new movement is in essence the path to enlightenment. The current status of the art world is “Contemporary” which is nothing more than a universal avoidance of the real issues at hand. Everyone everywhere is finding their niche in former artistic styles and creating their own comfort zones. These comfort zones may or may not include making a profit. I’ve been witness to artists that lock themselves into this dodge zone after the first sale.
Even the non-conformist artists that express themselves through new electronic media or anti-art conceptual projects are just rehashing the Dadaists via updated materials. The art world is in recycle mode and we must choose to step out of line.
My choice has been to pursue the path of the Beat writers. Most modern narrative travel writers would no doubt admit the influence of Beat artists such as Kerouac and Ginsberg. Furthermore, twentieth century philosophers such as Alan Watts (who was in conflict with the Beat generation, but so valuably acted as the Yin to their Yang) are markers in the path to enlightenment. There is no one true way in life, just as there is not a specific correct path in making art. We can look at previous artists, poets and philosophers as an indication of the path that will take us off the interstate of mediocrity and on to the blue highways of elucidation and revelation. - DN