Painting is its own reward

Painting is its own reward

Painting is its own reward

“Painting is its own reward” (1)

How could we define something that is finished in itself? Finished in the sense of an act that is complete and perfect but is present not as the end or termination of this act. Something that occurs, therefore the quote is in the present tense, as an experience which we carry forward as an aim so that it becomes the future and by the time we recall it, it will become past and an inherent part of who we are. It is this experience, with its individual and self-sufficient nature (2), that conveys everything about where we are and where we also recognize ourselves.

Recognizing (i.e. knowing once again) what we are occurs through memories of run-of-the-mill, common things: an album of wedding photographs we show friends, the beer shared during a chat with dad, childhood days which return when we are in a particular vehicle, the fear of a risky pregnancy, a treatment for an illness which reminds us of how fragile we are, the smell of bodies after sex. Experiences that speak about what we are and which are finished in themselves.

Sure, but we should be talking about painting.

Would these experiences, stemming from daily life and insignificant incidents, that contain a strange beauty and personal satisfaction not arise from the fact of being finished? How can we transform them into something concrete as we also recognize ourselves in what we are doing?

The landscapes that seem familiar to us but which carry a degree of uncertainty that is capable of stirring up common memories are in the paintings of Elisa Bueno. They are also present in the strength and thrust of the works of Renata Peligrini by portraying that which is not visible in real places but which we feel as a spirit of the place. It is also felt in the scenes of Vera Toledo which gain body and spirit in paintings such as “Varredor da Rua” (Roadsweeper) or “Primavera” (Spring) where the time present establishes itself more by the construction of figures through the color than its meaning. Perhaps also like Helena Carvalhosa with her energetic painting which sometimes show incompleteness almost as if the writings of Manoel de Barros were visualized.

The act of painting in itself carries with it a sincerity or honesty of feelings and sensations in everything similar to these commonplace situations described above and which will acquire their subsequent importance in the same way. I think this is valid for any artistic language. Both the fortune as well as the misfortune of painting lie in its long history that runs parallel to what we are. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult to understand it or understand the need of the person who does it. But is it not perhaps also difficult to explain hate or love to someone who does not feel it?

Marcelo Salles

1 The original phrase (“art is its own reward”) was quoted by Helena Carvalhosa
2 John Dewey – Art as Experience