The Boxer’s Hug

by cjdown


A couple of weeks ago I was preparing for an artist talk. This process entails going through a lot of material, some of it relatively old, and it gives the opportunity to think about one’s work in perspective over time. When I went through it with my wife (also an artist) she mentioned that the earlier work seems to be fighting with painting; that is, coming at painting through other media like print and drawing. But now it seems more like when boxer’s grapple with each other – the fight shifts, comes to a standstill and it looks like they are hugging. This felt like a very apt description of where the work is for me right now.

My perspective on my work has changed, especially in the last seven or eight months. Some of the things I’ve learned or re-learned about making my work or through making my work:

  • That the world is full of unexamined expectations, many of them my own.
  • That there is a difference between “professional” art (accredited, legitimated, promoted) and art that is authentic. They are not mutually exclusive, but they are distinct.
  • That it does no good to hold back what you love in favour of what you hope will be accepted.
  • That “culture” is an empty word.
  • Feeling it is different than knowing it.
  • Doing it is different than thinking about it.
  • Seeing it is different than looking at it.

I’m still sparring with painting. But the goal now has more to do with moving up a weight class than scoring points.