People spend immense amounts of energy trying to discern motivation. Why did this person do this? Why am I always doing that? Sex and money are often a factor. The lengths people go to for sex or money can be astounding. Think about it - what’s the last thing you did in order to either have sex or make money? How far out of your way did you go to do it? What’s the furthest you’ve ever gone out of your way for either? Let’s try a creative exercise to illustrate the point. Think of a verb. I will wait. Now try coming up with some hypothetical situation where someone would do that for sex or money. It was easy right? Sex and money loom so heavily on people’s actions that individuals to whom neither is a driving force seem outlandish. Groups like asexuals, communists and hippies perplex us. Another population exists counterintuitive to these desires: artists.
Humans have a hierarchy of needs and wants. In his 1954 book Motivation and Personality , Abraham Maslow laid out this framework. Visualize a pyramid, at the base of which are food, water, and sex (all of which money play in to). At the top are the more trivial. These trivialities include morality, spontaneity, and creativity. The artist resides in a space that is essentially a reversal of Marlow's pyramid, where the desire to create is its base and everything else is trivial. Many artists' motivations supersede sex and money. There are countless stories of artists starving or sleeping in unheated apartments because they used their money for paint . Artists are driven by a desire to create to the point of sacrificing other needs.
Many archetypes attempt to define the artist, but in reality we don't need to explain the artist or their motivation. However, we must recognize it to be unique. If one person desires to create something, regardless of how it will be perceived, it is likely to be something special. This is still a difficult space to navigate. Today, probably more than anytime in history, art is an industry. The European Fine Art Foundation estimated that the sale of art and antiques in 2014 was $51.4 billion dollars . A number like that is hard to ignore. For the average artist, its often impossible to display art at an event where the booth-fee alone is the price of a Toyota Camry. As Boris Groys writes in his article Art and Money,“Public exhibition practice thus becomes a place where...the relationship between art and money emerge[s]. The art market is...dominated by private taste.” It’s private tastes that an artist is often asked to ignore at the cost of his or her livelihood. But pure art, great art does just that. Great art exists on its own plane for its own sake.
Beyond Compensated is a visual ode to the nuance of human motivation. “To and Fro Some Forever Ago” depicts a couple dressed in traditional Chinese army uniforms playfully swaying back and forth on a swing. The underlying idea is how important personal relationships are, even against a backdrop of much larger forces at work. “Add Your Lazy Layer” is a follow up to that idea. It’s about dealing with the past, the things you loved and left your mark on, as well as the things that left their mark on you. It’s fun to speculate about the reasons people act the way they do. Passion takes all forms, as does desire. There’s a balance to be found everywhere we look, but is there one in art? We gawk at those who are too impulsive or too reserved. All the artworks you’ll see in this exhibition are depicting and expressing that flux in some way. They show a balancing act that is working wonderfully, or otherwise in impending doom. It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.