Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
– Dr Seuss –
A few years ago I presented my work alongside many other hopeful artists from the African continent to a certain gallery in Cape Town. This application was for representation by the gallery who have a second gallery in London. Neither myself nor my friend were selected, and, as we collected our work, my somewhat dejected friend said: ‘From now on I am only going to make art for myself.’ Unknowingly to him, his utterance made a huge impact on me. I have often thought of these said words.
Over the last year or so I have noticed that artists / writers who claim to make work only for themselves generally excel at what they do. I recently read that the British author J.K Rowling says that she writes simply for her own pleasure. One of my favourite South African artists, Willem Boshoff, clearly states that he has nothing else in mind when making art than making art for himself. Assuming this to be true, there is a valuable lesson to be learnt in their collective approach. Such an approach excludes thinking how others may be viewing their own work, instead focusing on ‘being who they are’ and ‘saying what they feel’ as they express themselves. This is my primary goal for 2016: making art [just] for me.
On that note, allow me to voice myself on which artist I felt met this criteria in 2015. Of all the exhibitions I managed to see in and around Cape Town last year, the work of Gregory Stock stood above the rest. A Space Between his exhibition held as 99 Loop Gallery exhibited his kinetic drawing machines and installations. Exploring the idea of finding himself in a transitional space of sorts (hence the title) I could not help feel that Stock had made the work purely for himself as he searched for meaning in his experiential uncertainty. Perhaps an assumption on my part, but to me the exhibited works were not made ‘to sell well’ nor was the impetus of the works particularly considered in relation to gallery wall & floorspace. When speaking to the gallery assistant at one point I was told that they had not known what to expect by showing Stock’s work.
I commend Loop 99 for ‘not minding about what matters.’ As for myself: as I move into 2016 I shall not mind those that do not matter.