The last four people sharing lock-down with us here at ArteSumapaz have left, and I now have both an exhibition space (el Granero) and the massive studio. Several years ago, I packed up all of my work that had been in the upstate New York studio, and shipped them to Bogota. I realized recently that I really needed to unpack these paintings that had been wrapped in plastic and cardboard – some of the earlier works were suffering from the direct contact with the cardboard – so I decided to use this opportunity of space and tranquility to unpack, and to mount a personal retrospective of my work.
Seeing all the work up on the wall, I can see my own thinking – the rabbit holes I went down. An artist’s life can look like a rat’s maze; turn-backs, second thoughts, recurrence, as opposed to a direct comet-like trajectory across the sky. I can see where there are gaps between a year or two, a time I might have been more focused on printmaking or drawing, or where life had insisted I pause for a spell.
There are works that I will destroy; I would find no joy on seeing them on anyone’s wall. Those works might have been important in the doing, but not so much as artifacts of the process. They can go, and if the stretchers are decent, they’ll be put to use again. Yet some pieces are a revelation, and reveal a line of thinking, of feeling, that really wasn’t bad at all.
I’ve put 24 of these works on the walls. Very likely, the “show” won’t be seen by more than a handful of people. But the opportunity for self-reflection is worth the trouble. I’m reminded – In some I can remember the taste of finishing those pieces. When you move to a new city, your brain is mapping the territory, so that your mind possesses an inner understanding of the place. Here, now, my brain is doing this very thing with my own life, putting different parts into context. In your twenties, that is an easier task. Understandably, approaching 60, there should be more to process.
The best part of this exercise is thinking about tomorrow’s work. If I’m lucky, I’ve got another 20 to 30 years of work ahead of me – much less than what lies behind me. But I’m enthused. I want to blow all of this work out of the water with what I’m going to do.