Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Thousand Words Paint a Picture

Last night I read a handful of entries from Linotte, The Early Dairies of Anais Nin, 1914-1920. Her writing never ceases to amaze and please me. I find her use and understanding of language, even at the tender age of eleven, outstanding. She wrote with such eloquence. I find myself often in awe of this when I read her work. I consider her one of my foremost literary and creative influences.

Literature has influenced my work as a visual artist for quite some time and in September this year I wrote about an idea I had in my analogue diary. The idea was based
on exploring the relationship between art and literature, primarily the influence of the written word on the visual artist.

When we read we are prompted to use our imagination f
or with written text there is no other visual platform. We must create the imagery ourselves from our imagination, allowing the written words or dialogue to conjure up images inside our head. In a sense we are merging the writer's imagination with our own.

In some cases, for me, the images that form are very literal and straight forward, parallel to the descriptive text. At other times the words can trigger a memory and the outcome is a more personal interpretation of the author's text – I may perhaps even visualise myself as a particular character or project myself into a specific context. Sometimes a simple sentence or description might trigger an idea or vision within my creative mind, which I then incorporate into a painting. Conversely many writers could possibly write an entire story based on a two dimensional work of art.

I wanted to examine these concepts further and thus at the beginning of this month I set up an online project with several other artists to explore this relationship. I am now taking this one step further and am in the process of curating an exhibition around this idea.

For me the relationship is an important one. I have even sometimes wondered if some authors are artists who cannot paint, (and even if some artists are struggling writers who find it hard to express themselves in a written medium thus choosing the visual alternative). Sometimes when I am reading the likes of Cohen, Murakami, Winterson, Robbins and other favourites, I think, 'I wish I had written that', as it perfectly describes the way I feel, think about or see something. Often when I can't find the right words, I paint. I paint for many reasons and at the end of the day, just like writing, it is a form of expression - self or otherwise.

1 comment:

Autumn said...

Very interesting. I think you may be right. I wanted to be an artist growing up - took classes, worked diligently on technical skills, etc. - but I was never able to get across what I wanted to say in paintings. However, writing always came naturally for me. I wrote my first story "Mr. Doggy and the Mean Monsters" when I was four or five, and I wrote steadily thereafter. I still feel compelled to draw (especially during meetings and on demand of my toddler who wants most stick figures of the Wiggles), but I still feel that my strength of expression lies in words.