Artist’s battle for Creativity

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The creative thinking artist is permanently involved in a battle for creativity. This,
seemingly endless combat is the result of socio-cultural, institutional and personally
internalized norms of ‘vision’ (to be able to perceive, imagine, interpret, understand,
express, respond to, communicate and understand norms or standards of visibility).
Such norms of vision are both unconsciously accepted, internalized and developed
as well as in an intentional manner, at least in the case of those involved in visual
arts and other professions dealing with, specializing in and employing them. Those
involved in visual arts will most likely be more sensitive towards such norms as it is
part of their specialization to identify, explore, analyze, extend, develop and transform
such norms.
The creative thinking artist most likely will not merely accept institutionalized norms of
vision of his sub-culture, his culture, his class, civilization and historical era, but he will
explore, analyze, question, transcend, transform and reject many of them. His questioning
and rejection of many established norms of vision of his time is not merely because he
is rebellious or some kind of visual revolutionary, but a necessity if he wish to develop
an individual style of perception and expression.
Norms of visual perception, expression, understanding and communication are both those
more general ones of culture (the culture of his time), civilization and sub-cultures and of
particular socio-cultural domains and their discourses. Among the latter are the traditions
of visual norms of visual arts of different cultures (for example Western ones, Indian,
Chinese and other Asian and Far Eastern ones, Arabic and other Semitic ones, African ones,
Aboriginal, Maori, Aztec, Red Indian, etc.). Within each of these traditions there exist
a diversity of sub-traditions and streams. What concerns us in this article is the influence
established norms of vision in general (or the larger culture and society of which the artist
forms part of) an artist as social person has acquired and the more specialized norms of
vision of the visual art the artist works in. An artist will acquire sets of visual norms of the
visual art form he becomes involved in, in a selective manner. If he is involved in
20th Century Contemporary Art, through education and practice, he will emphasize other
norms as primary and secondary if he was a Central European Renaissance or Medieval
artist.
Regardless of the era and society he exists in, he will constantly be driven by certain social
norms of vision as if they are a centrifugal force, as if they are like a law of Physics such as
gravity that are determining his own visual norms. In his attempts to explore, find and
develop his own individual style of vision and its expression he will continuously have
to resist merely following already established and institutionalized norms of vision. As
those are norms, with their accompanying attitudes, values, beliefs and understanding
he has internalized – they have formed, underlie and are his vision.
Therefore when he attempts to develop and express (and explore ways of expression)
his own individuated visual reality, he will constantly fall back on established norms of
vision he has internalized. This traditional tendency causes him to question his own
vision, his own attempts to create and to express his vision and the development of
a unique vision and accompanying attitudes, values and understanding.
This is the endless combat the creative thinking artist is involved in – battling with the
institutional norms, attitudes and values of vision he has internalized, that he is, that
his reality of vision consists of so as to explore, analyze, question, transform, evolve,
develop and transcend inherited norms in favour of other, newer and perhaps more
evolved, advanced and subtle ones.
Examples of such norms concern specific aesthetic phenomena, such as composition,
elements that play a part in composition for example symmetry, balance, counterpoint
etc, strong and weak forms, colour, lines and dots, etc. In an attempt to explore,
analyze, question, transform, develop, transcend and overcome ‘traditional’ or
his internalized set of visual norms the artist will deal with these aesthetic elements,
such as form, composition, colour, texture, etc in a concrete manner by painting. Let
us not forget that these elements will not be dealt with merely in abstraction and
through reflection but in a concrete manner by the making of marks on paper or
some kind of support and by means of different types of paint, pencil, crayons
etc . These material thing will also be applied in some way to the support, for
example in many different ways by brush, dripped, thrown, etc. Or in the form
of light, digital media, aural as sound, smell, touch, taste, etc.
The diversity of ways of ‘application’ in painting, performance art, installations,
etc do not directly concern us here. What is relevant in this discussion is the fact
that all of these things also come with their own baggage of assumptions and
established notions, attitudes, values and ideas. It is by dealing in concrete with
these things that the creative thinking artist will submit to the weight of his
internalized, traditional assumptions and their accompanying attitudes, values,
perceptions and misconceptions. At every moment and all the time the artist will
have to resist the pull of traditional values and attitudes he has internalized,
that he is, seeking for a new, a more authentic way to employ each of these things
in an attempt to realize, make concrete and visible his own, new, unique vision,
his own aesthetic vision and the expression and realization of it as a visual reality.

5th May 2015, Ulrich

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