There are many, many artists that I have been interested in, several artists that I admire but only a couple that have penetrated my psyche and become as much a part of me as my DNA. Munch is one of those.
I was reminded of the first time I encountered Munch’s artwork at the age of 17, at the library in art school. Holding this book of Munch’s work, I realized that I was not alone. The emotional force in his paintings connected with me intimately, directly, and intensely. At this vulnerable age, I was sure I was utterly alone in my despair but Munch revealed to me that was not true. His paintings were screaming my feelings, articulating my fears and connecting to my isolation. From Munch, I connected to heavy overwhelming depression, the energy of anxiety, fear of death, loneliness and confusion of spirituality. Munch knew his work could have these powerful effects. “Many believe that a picture is finished when they have understood what terms the world and I are on — ergo, a kind of egoism. Yet at the same time I have always thought and felt that my art might also help others understand their search for sanity.” (excerpt from Private Journals of Edvard Munch)
Untitled #3912, 1991
To be influenced is to engage so deeply with a piece, with a work of art, that it becomes part of you, infecting your point of view, challenging values, searching for understanding or sanity or just becoming a catalyst for opening yourself to greater experiences. It is an undeniable fact that Munch influenced my work and it is not merely an accident that my work often refers to his artwork. I have spent my entire life looking at books of art, traipsing through museums but when I find an artist that brings me to my knees in the way Munch’s work does, I embrace it. Love it. Consume it. It becomes a part of me. Tucked away in my subconscious, Munch’s work has continued to be a part of me, incorporated for decades into my psyche. Jeanette Winterson expressed this perfectly when she stated, “True art, when it happens to us, challenges the ‘I’ that we are.” (Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, Vintage, 1996)
Untitled #3725, 1991
There is no doubt that I have been changed by my relationship with Munch’s artwork and my debt to Munch is as undeniable as is my admiration.
Untitled #9-27-11-57, 2011
Recently I started looking more directly at Munch’s work in connection with my own and I was truly amazed that the correlations were, at times, direct. Sometimes it is the color palette, the graphic relations or gestures, and, perhaps the most important is the psychological connections.
The Escape, 1886
Untitled #3912, 1991
The Woman at the Urn, 1863
Untitled #5-1-17-819, 2017
Evening Melancholy, 1891
Untitled #3874, 1991
Untitled #8586, 2000