In Art there can be a fine line between arrogance and truthful self-expression.
In fact when fighting to get a project up, or create an artistic product, the drivers of creative projects have to resist all temptation to lose faith and plough on regardless of doomsayers and critics. The director, the writer, the producer, the actor, the designer, the arts administrator, the architect, the artists of many genres must believe in their work and keep believing… for, if not, the work will never be realized… or their idiosyncratic interpretation and vision will be watered down until it’s unrecognizable.
This is what jumped out at me when watching a film about Andy Warhol at the MAC in
last month. The interviewer lent in urging the eccentric
artist to reveal more of himself, while with barely concealed provocation he
said: “What do you say to people who criticize you (for this and that and the
other)… can you answer them?” With only
a moment’s thought and no hint of irony Andy simply replied: “No. I can’t. They’re right.” Belfast
This left the interviewer speechless. He expected a defensive response. Later he threw down the baton further with: “So are you going to keep doing this commercial art?” “Yes” Warhol replied matter-of-factly. “But don’t you think it’s finished?” the interviewer challenged quickly. “Yes”. That was it. No other reply.
If that wasn’t sufficiently brilliant to put the interviewer on the back foot, when asked one inane question Warhol simply stared for a long moment before pleading: “Can I just answer blah, blah, blah, blah, blah….?”
Talk about funny. Of course it wasn’t exactly ‘blah, blah, blah’ but a sound far more enigmatic and childlike. Warhol simply didn’t care to explain himself, even if he’d known how. And you can call it arrogance, but there’s more to it than that:
Warhol was born to create and create he did, settled in and unbreakable from his artistic perspective of the world. And as I watched this film, and then the wonderful exhibition across several rooms in Belfast's glorious new Metropolitan Arts Centre known as the MAC, I couldn’t decide whether to keep laughing aloud or shout BRAVO!
For this exhibition (part of a well-conceived programme called Artist Rooms On Tour) and the message which Warhol leaves us with is vital: artists must not be afraid… artists must dare and keep daring to express their view… shaping and interpreting until they get closer to the essence of their own (or their collective) idiosyncratic artistic truth.
For God knows, wouldn’t the world be boring without the Andy Warhols?
And if a little arrogance is the price to pay for artistic clarity and conviction, then so be it!