The following quotes are collated from a series of interviews with contemporary artists whom I invite to each reflect on their personal history, meaning, and philosophy, and how those are embedded throughout their creative process.
In these interview extracts, artists answer the question, “which philosophical questions are you most inspired by?”
I have a lot of questions, but with each passing day I accept that it’s totally okay that I don’t know the answers. I am neither a chemist nor a scientist. However, I use laboratory equipment that allows me to observe phenomena that are invisible to the naked eye. For over two years I have been exploring the secrets of microscopy and I have the impression that there are more and more questions instead of less.
I have lost myself in the microworld, and I use my scientific ignorance to carelessly and naively carry out various experiments, just to see what will happen and to admire the observed phenomena. Apart from my creative activity, the most interesting unanswered questions for me are “Where is the universe?”, “What is life like on other planets?” and “Is telepathy possible under the right conditions?” I will probably never know the answers to them but I feel very comfortable with that. We don’t need to know everything!
I am always fascinated with how each of us has a subjective view of reality, which is sensed through a biological lens that has evolved over millions of years. The question of, How do we find a sense of objective reality? Also, how much free will do we really have?
When I was younger, I was really inspired by the existentialist, but now I wonder if things are more deterministic. How much free will do we have when everything we are experiencing is through an emotional biological mechanism that can only sense a small sliver of objective reality? I don’t really know, but it makes things interesting.
I’ve studied and practiced Buddhism since 2015. Since then, I’ve come to realize that the main tenet of my work is enlightenment, and more specifically, our failures at reaching for enlightenment and the paths we take to try and get “there.”
In grad school, I felt like I was spinning my wheels looking at things from the highly academicized and overly erudite western philosophical traditions. Now, I prefer to either simplify my ideas or to look at things from a Buddhist standpoint. Karma, Cause and Effect, and Impermanence are all ideas im interested in talking about because they are ideas that permeate my worldview.
In graduate school, I wondered, “How can I use art to describe the way I see the world in different spectra?” but that line of thought fell apart because it was too complicated. I found that I was interested in language, the relationship between image and text, but I wasn’t interested in pursuing linguistics or semiotics. Now, I’m more concerned with “How can I talk about certain subjects without being too on the nose, disingenuous or non-poetic?”
I’m still walking along the path. I’ve come to see hands as a symbol for our actions, karma being created or returned. Teeth are symbolic of the words we use to create karma. Billowing brushstrokes of colors can be either waves of light or ideas surrounding a mind. Thoughts, words, and actions are the three things that create karma, they are the cause and karma is the effect.
And to talk about these subjects with painting, I’ve found I need to be a poet about it, not necessarily a fiction writer or a Journalist. I think with poetry you can do the work of a fiction writer or a Journalist all while you do the work of a poet. But as a painter doing the work of a poet, that means I’ve got to depict my subject matter in such a way that color, form, and composition blend together the figurative and the abstract in much the same way the world around us is a mishmosh of what we understand (the figurative) and what we do not (the abstract).
“My work is not directly related to a specific philosophical question. But I do find the common between the process of creation and philosophy is that they are not meant to give an answer but to raise questions. It provokes thinking and blurs boundaries rather than imposes limits. Do creators ask questions like a philosopher in an artistic way? This might be possible.
What appeals to me is the question of time. I like to think about it with scientific research to help me better understand that our time is not an invented linear line but exists in a more organic and fluid state.
My own time-related work is also made under the effect of the pandemic. The loss of the sense of time during the isolation period leads to the loss of the sense of meaning. It was a personal crisis for me, I started to fight that feeling by drawing a flower a day as a mark of time.
After a year, the final outcome looks like a visual representation of time. But what’s important is the openness the work gives me, I exchange drawing flowers with people online and at different exhibitions. During the process, it becomes an opportunity for me to communicate with people. At the end of the project, I have no intention to ask what is time and what is meaning. The flow of energy between people and the conscious connection with myself is what I learned from this project.
Compared with questions and answers that are repeated many times, I prefer some questions that I have not presupposed. For me, the purpose of answering a question is not only that I will give an exact answer, but also I start to think about it. It pushes me to consider clues in my work and myself that I haven’t realised yet. So the answers I give are not necessarily permanent conclusions and I’m not expecting them to be perfect. They will continue to expand and grow.”