DON QUIXOTE & THE ARTIST
When I lived in New York, I had the opportunity to live in Chelsea, around the corner from an infamous Hotel. It’s steeped in history, and so much of it is on the internet, I won’t bother telling you any of it here. At the time, I became a regular(ish) at the bar next door: the El Quijote. Now apparently they have food, but I have never had anything that would not fit in a glass. Biut this story is not about the bar …it’s about a conversation that made me re read a book and draw new conclusions. Just like, you know ... many years later.
One summer night, I had a heated discussion with an art curator about the importance of romance. This stared as a conversation on a rooftop with too much Lagavulin and ended up around the corner at the bar. The conversation is blurry at best, but it is tied to themes, characters and human evolution. He was quite inspired in his bility to draw parallels to life through 15th century literature. It took me a while to get it.
Cervantes' "Don Quixote" tells the story of a man who becomes so enamored with the chivalric romances of the past that he decides to become a knight-errant and set out to right wrongs and protect the helpless. In many ways, I can make the character, Don Quixote a metaphor for the modern working artist, who often feels a similar sense of idealism and a desire to make a positive impact on the world through ones work. What ever positive impact means. Franky, this is more akin to the current wave of professional protest art.
Don Quixote, (the protagonist) has been interpreted as a symbol of the individual's quest for meaning in a world that is often absurd and meaningless. The character's devotion to the ideals of chivalry, despite the ridicule and obstacles he faces, can be seen as a commentary on the importance of art and imagination in giving life purpose and value. In this way, Don Quixote could be seen as a "modern day messenger" for the power of art to inspire and elevate the human spirit. Maybe.
Like Don Quixote, artists tend to feel their work is not fully appreciated or understood. Furthermore, they often feel they are misunderstood or dismissed as "crazy" or "delusional." I mean ...I am writing for a freind, I would know nothing about that. At any rate, both Don and the modern artist may feel that they are fighting against a society that is becoming increasingly commercialized and materialistic, and that their work is a way to hold on to more traditional values of beauty and truth. Especially in the commoditized art world that seeks to put a price on all efforts. Let’s not even start with having to “meet the moment” and other social justice issues being forced down creators throats. As for me, any one who has seen my presentations or shows knows that I use my art as a way to stop time, regardless of the aesthetic.
I guess, Quixote and the modern artist may feel that their work is a form of self-expression and personal fulfillment, and that it is an important part of their identity. They may find that their work gives them a sense of purpose and direction, even in the face of disappointment and rejection. I m not sure that is accurate, but it's an attempt. What I am sure of, is that no-one cares about your self expression or identity, once you ask for the money. But thats for another post.