Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It is not easy to keep spirits up. I have been feeling very discouraged lately because I feel that my art is not being noticed. I'm used to a little more attention than I get now ... But that's not all - we are seriously concerned about how we will be able to keep our art alive. We have to somehow live off our art, but there is a recession with a really bad art market. Moreover, there's a plethora of artists ... I think people have serious trouble focusing on anything profound and demanding,  and easily fall prey for superficial delights and eye candy. In the 90s, it was gratifying to be an artist, people were enthusiastic about my work and bought almost everything I created. Perhaps it was because I was relatively young - there is a tendency among people to support young artists and we are definitely aware here in the UK of the fact that we are middle-aged. Spirituality was perhaps also rated higher at the time, there was an eagerness that I no longer perceive either in myself or others. Perhaps it is because the collective has started to develop into more mature forms of spirituality. While there are lots of people who are drawn to quite shallow expression of New Age spirituality - forgive me for saying this but many indulge in crystals, mythical animals, angels and fairies rather than the reality of living. In my view, it is another way of distraction and avoiding the dark depths.

Symbols can be used in different ways; either in a flat, dryly literal way, as dimensional, many faceted elements with complex connotations. There's a great difference between glossy hyper realist New Age imagery and symbolic art that questions attitudes about reality. The question is, what do you need pictures for? Are they just something cute to look at and that will elevate your mood for a second, or something you can identify with on a deeper level? I'm not saying it's wrong to have the kind of pictures on the walls that puts us in a positive frame of mind, but it is all that art has to offer?

I have always suppressed the fact that I have a chronic condition. I did not want to be defined by others as someone who has something wrong with them, or give the impression that I was looking for sympathy. It was hard enough to be different than most other people in mind and spirit. I'm starting to think however, that maybe people should be educated about chronic illnesses that affect so many women, and a way to do so which can me made sublte is by showing it in pictures. I have a deformed spine since childhood and have symptoms of fibromyalgia as a result. On the whole, fibromyalgia appears to be related to stress, and perhaps that is why it has become increasingly common. Pain and fatigue is so common nowadays that it is becoming more the norm to be sick than to be healthy. Therefore, one should perhaps talk about it in a broader perspective.

I feel embarrassed about talking about it ... perhaps because one so easily becomes stigmatized and pushed aside as someone who is living on taxpayers without contributing to society. I try to contribute by creating my art, my diaries and blogs. However, I am also afraid of being labeled as negative. I recently wrote an article about suffering and art - you can read it at the top section called "My Background".

"Threat", copyright 1991
 At the time, I had severe abdominal pain and was working on opening my emotional life.
I have previously touched on the problems in my art, such as in "Me, Myself and I" (copyright 2008) - the back problem is indicated with black crosses. "Insomnia" from this year should be easy to understand. However, I would bring it more clearly. I think I'll leave the computer for a while and try to get started with a picture that I've thought for a while. When I have a few new pieces I plan to produce a small book on private suffering as it is expressed in some of my collages.
Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "My Myself and I - Towards Integration", copyright 2008
The text is from a picture book from when I was about 4 years old: "You can draw and paint Pippi's suitcase that is full of gold coins. And maybe the thieves who want to come and take them. Or anything else you think is exciting." I drew a sad Pippi ...

In the middle, there is a picture drawn by myself when I was only a few years old. The Pippi Longstockings colouring book tells you the following in Swedish: "Here you can draw the thieves and the treasure throve with gold money in it, or anything else that you find interesting". I drew a sad Pippi, that tough girl who seems to have lost her strength in this drawing. The Siamese twins represent the two aspects of myself; the one that aspires spiritually and has no worldly worries, and the other that suffers from the challenges in the physical realm. They are irrevocably interlinked, and the way I see it they are the two sides of one coin. Life is a play of dualism... You can't have light if you don't have darkness, or know the joys of wellbeing if you haven't known ill health. This piece also speaks of a dialogue between the lower and the higher level of existence, and of an integration of the psyche which basically means that many things have been processed and accepted for what they are.

"Insomnia" copyright 2011
Read more about my views on health of my English-speaking health blog The Alchemy of Health .

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