Some of the performances are captivating and deeply soulful. Singers get to express their truth directly, through their voices. It is not something that can be faked. Honesty and soul shine through.
What caught my attention is in the cutaway interviews, the judges talk about 'being an artist... '. What they mean is performing artist, obviously. But it made me think about visual artists. And the differences between us and performing artists, in particular singers. They make beautiful sounds straight out of their mouths, they enchant, enrapture, transfix and transform people. It is a very powerful talent. It runs so deep and is timeless and profoundly moving. A visual artist on the other hand, mostly labours alone, often in silence; feedback or encouragement is rarely immediate and sporadic at best. We spend years, playing, experimenting, honing our skills and craft, attempting to make images that will express our souls.
A great singer can sing someone else's song and make it their own. A great artist can only make their own art. What makes a great artist is his or her ability to transcend the norm, transcend the limitations, restrictions, the expectations and create an image, or a series of images, that are so packed full of subtle power, so full of life itself that they cannot be ignored. To do this is extremely difficult and usually takes a long, long time. Devotion, passion, dedication and desire. Desire to journey to the edge of soul and gather up all the good bits, bring them back and throw them out onto the canvas in a act of pure mastery and magic. In it's own way it's just as powerful as an amazing song. Not as immediate, not as flamboyant or as attention getting, but just as moving, nonetheless.
I've been seeing these images pop up on my facebook page over the last few days by an artist I don't personally know. They are incredible. They immediately move me, I am transfixed and intrigued by them. If I see in a book, or online, someone who's work I really relate to, I will sometimes check if they are on facebook and 'friend' them. Most artists, bless their souls, respond. We don't correspond, really, I just 'like' their posts of new works and vice versa. It's pretty cool and one of the things I dig about facebook. But this guy, the one I am referring to - I don't recall how I came to know his work or when I friended him. I kept seeing his works being posted over the last few days - so many winners! - these were awesome paintings, wow! Thick and fast. I finally went to his page and worked out that his loving wife was posting his stuff. He recently passed away. She wanted everyone to see the beautiful works he had been doing in the last few months, years. It was poignant and sad to realise that he will be creating no more.
If I think about the feeling I get listening and watching a great singer doing their song and the feeling I get when I look at his works, I realise they both inspire me in different ways. A song, sung in a certain way can bring me to tears. These artworks, on the other hand, fill me with something equally as moving - not as immediate - but more esoterically, more subtly and in some ways, more profoundly. This man is not painting for an audience, he is not performing. He is following his calling, attentively, joyfully perhaps, recording in images his interpretation of the sensation and experience of being alive. He has left behind a beautiful and abundant legacy. I never knew him, but I feel like I do. And as a fellow artist, I respect and admire him for his talent and devotion. I thank him for his inspiration. Conrad Mecheski; you live on through your art, sir, and those of us who are priviliged enough to hear your unique, enchanting song exude from your gentle, complex, captivating images will continue to be uplifted and exhilarated by them for a long time. Thank you.