I remember reading in Matsuo Basho’s biography a short segment on his views of what an artist is in relation to nature.  I can’t remember exactly the words that appeared on the page, so my memory will have to suffice.

He wrote of the closeness to nature the artist must have for the artist to create naturally, positing that a truly cultured person has a strong appreciation of nature, and it is this bind with nature that flowed through the artist and into their creations. He felt that the farther from nature one is, the less cultured they are, and thus the less natural their productions.

Real poetry to him did not require a desire to write poetry, it did not require a burning passion to continue to write, it did not include the self or the self’s ambitions. The artist created simply because there existed no other path for them to walk upon.

I remember one day while installing my first gallery show at the university I attended I spouted that I tired of people trying to create art, trying to create a style, trying to become something. I announced to my fellow gallery mates that I strove to never try, but to just do. I feel that I have strayed far from my own words and Basho’s. I wonder if he might laugh at me; my drawings, my writing, my sculpture, my poetry.

Why should I care what a long dead man would think about my work? Perhaps because his words echoed in my mind before I met them. Perhaps because he understood art more than most do today.

Heat radiates | in a vacant parking lot | weeds sprout from cracks


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