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Art Solutions 2004

The 2004 introduction to Art Solutions. 

Art Solutions Original Version 2004

Art Solutions

Now of course, there's as many definitions of what art is or an artist is as there are reasons why the president can't actually do anything about poverty and discrimination, but that is bye the bye. I'd like to talk instead about my personal observations about art and artists, and my propositions to do something different for a change.

Ever noticed that most successful artists have a major screw loose?

Sure you have.

When DO you turn to writing poetry, mostly?

In moments of severe emotional stress, when the "good behaviour" rules have broken down and there's a bit of honesty and connection for once. Then something of power and impact pours out onto the paper - like the "The Scream" painting, for example.

But in pouring it all out, and although this provides a temporary pressure valve relief, NOTHING MATERIAL CHANGES about the reasons or causes for that pain. Nothing at all. You can pour this bile onto parchment, and onto canvasses, and into twisted sculptures, and into screaching, moaning music until the cows have become evolutionary dead ends and NOTHING GETS ANY BETTER - indeed, if you survive that long because the repeated accessing of intense states of emotional disturbances and pure anguish WITHOUT changing them into something else or RESOLVING THEM eventually, will KILL YOU.

Just ask Jim Morrisson. Or Janis Joplin. Or Van Goch. Or Beethoven. Or any of the many others who gave their energy, spirit, life and sanity in that fruitless quest for pain cessation via art.

Unfortunately, these "pain performances" do get rewarded not just internally because they feel so REAL AND TRUE (when everything else feels like nothing or just so horribly wrong somehow ...) but also by the paying public who is just as hungry for something REAL AND TRUE and will encourage the artist from their end to keep dipping into those pain states, go deeper, we want more, more, more truth, more real ...

Not knowing that REAL does NOT mean pain alone, and having ONLY pain as the access door to these realms of truth and reality, the artists go diving for more pain and destroy themselves in the process.

As though this wasn't bad enough, they ALSO leave behind what can only be termed A LEGACY OF PAIN AND INSANITY for everyone else.

Their pain and true misery is caught and bottled in the works of art and people cry just as heartbrokenly successfully today over the Adaggio in Gminor as the artist did who wrote the goddamned thing in the 15th century - a legacy of tears, talk about "Cry me a river ..."! How many tears is that good man responsible for, just in those last 500 years alone, just with A SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC?

Just how many poster-reproductions of the "The Scream" painting are hanging on suicidal student's bedroom walls right now, making things worse than they already are, sapping those youngster's will to live even further still?

If YOU are an artist, is THAT the legacy you want to leave the World?

Sadly, mostly that would be, no.

Most artists don't wish their own suffering onto anyone else at all, not even on their worst enemies. In spite of everything, they retain a sense of rightness and wrongness, and, having suffered themselves so profoundly at the hands of the "general wrongness of being a human here under these untenable conditions", would rather destroy their own works of art than contributing even further by pouring even more desperation, misery and bile into the churning rivers of humanity.

However, the problem for me always lay in the observation that presenting someone who is ALSO suffering with a happy bunny picture of bliss and harmony is more likely to MAKE THEM WORSE rather than to do any good whatsoever.

People are DRAWN to the screams and adaggios in Gminor (of all things!) BECAUSE they feel a resonance to that truth of misery and forsakenness, of anger and desperation - it reflects and MATCHES their own experiences, and even though they may be well aware just before they put that "child abuse special" record on for the 14,880th time that it WILL make them feel even worse, they have to procede because - what else is there?

What else IS THERE?

WHO ELSE understands their pain or how they are suffering?

Offering such a person in a moment of crisis a copy of "We are going on a summer holiday ..." will cause more harm in every sense - but if the rapport of the "suffering artist" is ALSO causing more harm in every sense as the misery is being deepened, endlessly affirmed and constantly re-experienced and focussed upon, what else is there left to do?

Well, the answer came to me most surprisingly and quite unexpectly one night.

After having looked through an old poetry book of mine, which truly was a revelling in, a regurgitation of, and a serious attempt at deepening the "oldest wounds", pages and pages and pages after pages of it, it occurred to me that this truth and art might be used in a different and more pro-active way.

Rather than just "telling about the pain" (and thereby, reliving it and re-experiencing it every time, time and time again!) why not use art to provide THE SOLUTION TO THE PAIN?

All that is needed to achieve this is to make what was previously a one step process - namely pouring out the misery AS IT IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCED - into a two step process, namely:

1. Becoming aware of the pain or problem;


2. Asking directly for a solution.

And this is as simple as sitting down in front of a blank canvass, piece of paper or unshaped bit of clay, a piano or with a guitar in one's hand and thinking for a while upon the problem, getting right down into the middle of it, cry out for help, and then *letting the artwork BECOME THE ANSWER AND THE SOLUTION*.

Everyone and anyone who has ever engaged in ANY form of artistic endeavour will find this remarkably easy - you literally just let your pencil or brush paint the solution for you, in whatever medium you choose to work (rather than just "express yourself" - are we oranges or what?!).

"I am lonely and lovesick - give me a cure for my malady! Show me a way out, a star of hope, give me an inspiration! A colour, a note, a shape, SOMETHING that will HELP ME, make this easier to bear, something that is just right FOR ME!"

Images and sounds begin to stream, energy flows IN A WHOLE NEW WAY and in a TOTALLY DIFFERENT DIRECTION - and what you get as a result is ...

- NOT A DENIAL AT ALL of the things which caused the pain; - NOT A LYING CHEATING HAPPY BUNNY ILLUSION in any sense; - NOT SOMETHING FLAT AND LIFELESS at all;

... but indeed something that is so rich, complex, magical and superb it will take your breath away, literally.

Even a beginner's very first attempts to turn around from suffering to FORWARD MOMENTUM has immediate effects - on their states of being, on their levels of clarity and it does more, far more than that.

Immediately, and instead of "painting the same picture over and over again" as the old "pain expression" would have produced, we have ...

- new directions opening up; - new doorways presenting themselves; - at the very least a SENSE of the vastness that is out there and entirely unexplored; - a sense of dawning excitement and most importantly, - that immediate switch into STRONG FORWARD MOMENTUM ...

... as the artist discovers new forms, new ideas, new approaches and also, a different sense of what energies there are.

NOT ONLY pain produces that sense of truth and reality, magic and really being in contact with something profound.

THAT does but so do all sorts of other states of being, which people in society do NOT experience EITHER.

When societies are constructed to make sure the sittingroom is never ever too hot, nor ever tooo cold, but "always just right" it is not just the experience of hot and cold that goes astray, but a whole lot more - the seasons, the many different sensations of wind across your bare body, in your hair; the smell of autumn as opposed to spring; the crispness of a winter morning and the pure power of a thunderstorm - so much is lost, so very much, and only the TINIEST PROPORTION of that is pain, anguish and misery.

And here's another thing.

Artwork produced AS THE SOLUTION to a problem does retain the rapport and understanding to the CURRENT SUFFERERS OF THE PROBLEM - the "I'm not alone and someone understands me" factor that caused the poor people to put on the sad records and hang "The Scream" on their dormitory walls is STILL IN ACTION - only this time, they're not left with simply a "Highlights of Misery" TV report, but with A SOLUTION INSTEAD.

Just pause for a moment and contemplate what that would be like, if a person in a "The Scream" state was to come across something - a song, a poem, a sculpure, a TV play, etc. etc - which he or she would immediately CONNECT WITH, recognise and - WHICH WOULD HELP THEM TRANSGRESS their darkness and begin their journey to the stars instead!


Art as a perfect solution.

Now, a person looking at someone else's picture, or listing to THEIR songs, would not have exactly the same response and they might well not be healed by that second hand experience - but they would have a role model of a VERY DIFFERENT KIND as we have been used to.

A Janis Joplin who DID NOT kill themselves, but went on to become a superb artist who could touch and tell MUCH MUCH DEEPER, STRONGER, MORE POWERFUL TRUTHS about being a human being, and inspire others to find their own.

Would that be worth something?

To a single individual person?

To a single individual artist?

To their fan club of thousands?

To society as a whole?

To humanity?

Well, I leave that up to you to decide or wonder about; in the meantime, I'd like to close with the suggestion and idea that you might owe it to yourself to at least try this.

To at least attempt to create an artistic solution to a problem of your own. To monitor your thoughts and your energy shifts as you work your way through the process, and to learn something from this, even if you are only doing a doodle on a scratch-pad or a few notes on a piano - focussing on YOUR SOLUTIONS instead of re-iterating about your (already well known!) problems in the creation of artistic materials.

It is truly extraordinary what that can do for you, and I don't think there's a limit as to how far one may take that principle in all one seeks to do.

Silvia Hartmann 06.01.2004

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