During the process of painting meanings come and go. I don’t find them to be definitive. Meanings, that is, more or less coherent thoughts about the significance of things, occur to me, change, stay, or get forgotten. What a painting means to me and how much it means to me will be largely a function of how it intersects with other experiences I’ve had. Others will generate their own meanings, viewing or thinking about the work. All these meanings, however engaging, are certainly not the reason for working nor the point of painting.
If by “reality” we mean everything that is so, then we must see that it doesn’t mean anything; it just is. Meaning we make, individually and culturally. Art’s function is at least partly to cut through the received codes of meaning that intervene between us and reality.
Art, as opposed to culture, always had one leg in chaos (where, by definition, there is no meaning). Art has to that extent an implicitly critical role, even when not setting out to disrupt our programming.
On Authenticity and Meaning by Robert Berlind
from the book M/E/A/N/I/N//G by Susan Bee and Mira Schor