Friday, November 19, 2004

Artist as Shaman, or, Is This Another Ego Trip?

I happened to read an article about a Boston artist named Peter Lyons. I like his work, but something he said intrigued me more.

From the article, "About 2 percent of painters are shamans, he said; the rest are crap, choking the life out of the best galleries in New York and London and Paris."
"The artist as shaman is this direct experience with the spiritual world," he said. "Through a metaphor -- a painting on a cave wall, a painting on a canvas, or a dance around a campfire with song -- he takes the other people around him on this journey that only he could take." What he seemed to mean was that the work of the true artist functions as a portal, offering momentary passage to grace and truth. And even if I was wrong, even if I hadn't completely grasped the artist-as-shaman conceit, what of it? Who was I to question Lyons's theories about the metaphysics of the art universe? He was, after all, painting's Next Big Thing.

Huh. That whole art and spirit thing is one of my favorite angles on art. And I certainly have plenty of snootiness about most of the work I see, as I've demonstrated on this blog. Will have to ponder this more.

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