Words by Joshua Cialis, Picture Larry Rivers and Frank O’Hara working on ‘Stones’.
The image of the artist is one widely contested. It falls somewhere between the outgoing hyped individual of the bohemian scene or the shy quiet one in the corner sketching the world. However they act though, the true artist conveys a message and suggests or comments on the truth of the artist’s mind alone. The artist cannot comment on what they do not experience. I am obviously not suggesting that any artist who comments on murder is a murderer or has personally been a victim of murder. Everyone in society experiences murder – if only indirectly. One only has to turn on the television to see the effects of murder; from the news to EastEnders murder is beamed to our televisions and computers twenty-four-seven. What I’m saying is, any artist can comment on murder.
Yet the better artist will comment on what they personally know best, what they experience most purely. The best art is a comment on what an artist knows – or what they know they don’t know. Self-deprecation or confusion can often make for interesting and pure art. Jack Kerouac’s brilliantly pure and fast paced novel, On the Road is written almost autobiographically (using a Roman á clef technique) from personal journeys and actual conversations translated onto the page from memory and poetic sketches in notebooks. Stormzy knows the ‘ends’ of South London and experiences it daily. That is why his art is purer than a boyband who sing songs written by someone else. These boybands are not artists but rather tracers tracing around the art of someone else. Unless they completely re-master and re-write a song to show their own experience they will only continue to trace art.
The best art is that which is spontaneous and written at or very close to the point of experience. Frank O’Hara was a master of this. He could often be seen writing poems while at parties or while eating lunch. Our age is made for this habit with a technological notebook at our fingertips – we live in the age of spontaneous writing. You will often see me sitting or standing in a pub, club, or café typing furiously into my phone; it is not that I am being antisocial, but rather writing about that moment – about my experience of that moment – in that moment. You may argue that by writing, I have taken myself out of the moment and am no longer experiencing it. However, I am still within that moment, still observing it, experiencing it. By writing down what I can see I am still taking part and experiencing that moment. It is this art which is most pure and therefore most true.
Until art is purified and echoes personal experience we will only continue to be shown falsities and drab attempts at art.