I started this painting piece couple of days ago, and at the time it felt marvelous creating it, putting paint on, making marks, scraping, dabbing. This physical part of painting is very much like a kinesthetic thrill or a runner’s high.
We don’t talk much about art regarding physical motions of an artist. We often speak of meaning, the possible story it tells, the size, the quality of marks. You never hear how the artist enjoyed moving their hand or fingers or even entire body to make a mark. In fact, the most common adjective that is attached to “mark” is obsessive, as in obsessive mark making. I wonder why it is so.
Rarely do we have a conversation about the corporal of making art unless the physicality is so much a part of the piece like in Richard Serra‘s giant steel creations. Standing in front any of his pieces you cannot help but wonder what strength it took to pound and bend the steel. Otherwise, we talk about the mind, what the artist thought, what they were trying to convey, the shape, the form, the composition.
Walter Benjamin once said, “Every expression of human mental life can be understood as a kind of language” when he was making a distinction between the mental and linguistic entities. So maybe once the piece is finished and is on display since its life becomes detached from its maker it has nowhere else to move but to the realm of mental life. The maker almost becomes irrelevant along with their physicality.