Monday, May 30, 2011

Wie soll ich Freud finden, wenn ich die Arbeti nicht machen kann? - How shall I find joy, when I cannot do the work?

Time to time, I found myself struggling with my paintings - either the direction they took on were not of my original designs and I was not sure if I should follow the natural courses or the original designs, or I was not able to achieve my vision, or suddenly I lost my interest in the piece I'd been working on for months.  Whatever the reasons were, the struggle was very difficult and demoralizing.  Life became so joyless.

I suppose, this experience is not unique.  I am reading the book “Ich will wirken in dieser Zeit” (I will make impact in this time), a collection of letters and diaries by German artist Käthe Kollwitz.  In September 1916, she wrote below entry in her diary:

September 1916
Am 7. September sehe ich meine Arbeit so trostlos an, daß ich beschließe, vorläufig nicht weiter daran zu arbeiten. Ich habe innerlich das Gefühl von Leersein. Wie soll ich Freud finden, wenn ich die Arbeit nicht machen kann? Mit jemand zu sprechen hat gar keinen Sinn. Nichts und niemand kann mir helfen.

Ich geb es natürlich nicht auf – das kann ich vielleicht gar nicht –, aber eine Pause. Keine Freude hab ich jetzt. Den ganzen Tag hab ich gestern alles Mögliche erledigt. Aber wozu ist das?
I am including my rough translation below:
September 1916
On 7 September, I see my work so dreary that I decide temporarily not to continue to work on it.  I have a feeling of emptiness inside.  How shall I find joy, when I cannot do the work?  Talking to someone makes no sense.  Nothing and no one can help me.

I do not give up of course – perhaps I can not, – just a break.  Right now I have no joy.  All day yesterday I have done everything possible.  But what is it?

Yes, we all struggle.  Perhaps it is pretentious to mention myself and Kollwitz in one single sentence but she is one of the artists I revere most and it would not be wrong to try to draw inspiration from her, I believe.

"Woman with Dead Child" by Kathe Kollwitz, etching, 1903 National Gallery of Art,D.C. (Image source: Wikipedia)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mathew.
    After reading your post May 30, 2011, I was drawn to a few words: Time, struggling, lost, achieve, joyless, vision, demoralizing, life.
    As an artist myself I find these words to be powerful, refreshing .These words can only come from an artist that feels enough about the process of expressing oneself by looking deep within .
    I feel this passion and introspect is lacking today from artists and shows in what we now all to often refer to as great art.

    Can you imagine if you were using the words in your post : wonderful, great, gorgeous, superb, awesome?
    If this were the case , I believe that we would be back using your words,
    Lost, joyless,direction. And to use some of the words that Kathe Kollwitz used in her article on Sept 1916, ...emptiness, dreary, temporarily.
    Thank you for sharing your struggles, insight, and your passion as an artist.
    Robert Welsh