Thursday, 26 August 2010

Am I a sell-out?

It's that time of year again where I have to submit 3 paintings to a panel of judges for entry into the annual SASA exhibition.
Every year I ask myself why I do this. What does it matter if my paintings are accepted or not. I am still going to paint, right? Whether some guy likes my work or not, or whether all three paintings get accepted or just 2 or maybe only one. It's not going to affect me. Or is it?

Lately I have been grappling with a disturbing thought that the subject matter of my paintings is being influenced by whether it will be acceptable in a SASA exhibition or not. I have paintings that are sitting in my studio that I think are more "me" than the ones I put out there for the public eye. Why am I not brave enough to put the really "me" paintings out there. I am sure they will not be accepted by the judges. It is obvious for all those who have ever been to a SASA exhibition at Kirstenbosch that the paintings on show there are largely landscapes, flower or still life studies. You will not see a lot of "nudes" or "experimental" or way- out stuff there. I guess this is understandable given the profile of visitors to Kirstenbosch. I am sure SASA would not like to shock the socks off tourists visiting the gardens by displaying art that "offends" or "challenges" in any way. No - they prefer to present paintings that don't break any rules and are safe for family viewing.

Fair enough I suppose, but I face a conundrum. I have been lucky enough to have sold work at these exhibitions lately. Now I find that I am starting to gear my paintings with that objective specifically in mind.
Am I a sell-out? I guess as long as I keep challenging myself and try out  more daring work at home I think I am still being true to myself. We all need money, so if we are lucky enough to be able to knock off a couple of "potboilers" to sell at exhibitions, good luck to us I say. As long as the real work goes on behind the scenes, which in my case is certainly true.

The inserted painting is of the beach at Swakopmund which we visited in June. It was so peaceful there and I tried to capture that moment just before sunset.

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