And Ye May Know A Man By His Work: An Introduction to the Work of Christina Crimari
The work of great and lesser men alike is, for the benefit of historical analysts, and the supposed added value their pronouncements are supposed to bestow upon their intended public - very conveniently, obviously, and popularly, divided into 3 distinct periods - the number 3, of course, being a magic number.
These 3 periods are usually termed Early, Middle and Late (Picasso, because he’s Picasso, is granted extra subsections in this area) and used to describe the work of nearly all creators, irrespective of who they are, or what they create. Some added bonus may be granted by the creator’s own “oddball” personality, less salubrious reputation, or juicy scandal surrounding their lives. Beethoven is a classic case in point, his works essentially being classified into Early Copying Haydn and Mozart Bumptious, Middle Aged Bumptious, and Ultra-Modern Ahead Of Own Time Superhuman 9th Symphony Pre-Mahler Bumptious.
Notwithstanding outward behaviours’ importance, they don’t give us the whole picture. Judged on its own merits, as a semi-separate entity from the creator themselves, a creative work gives us a complexity of reading the artist’s psyche - of applying a form of graphology, if you will - that we would never obtain under any other circumstances. For example, I might respect the work of someone whose talent sets them squarely above the rest, but who is proved to be a supremely impossible crank (I myself have been that crank) - or I might, on the other hand, get on fabulously well with someone at a party, but thoroughly loathe their Art. At the end of the day, and in my own mind, I cannot divorce the person from their Art, as it will potentially show me a secret side to them that I cannot afford to unsee.
At this point in my life, I am less concerned about how a painting might look on a wall, and more interested in the story it tells. I look for repeated occurrence of certain subjects, obsessions or motifs - Freudian or no; the unique “hand” of the artist, which is like a fingerprint; and the development of the artist’s work - their pursuit of ideas over time, and the reasons why they think these ideas have legs. - Have “their” ideas, “their” execution, indeed been all the artist’s own work - or conversely, the work of many, with the artist as the poster child?
I am not exempt from this treatment, as consciously or unconsciously, I also subject myself to not inconsiderable levels of analysis. What does my work tell me about myself, and what does it tell others about me and my mind?
I am aware that my life over the last quarter-century, or so, has yielded up a sizeable volume of work in terms of painting, illustration, music, writing and publishing, and feel, at this point, that there is no time like the present to give it some repeat airtime. Even though I have been online since the year 2000, and even though I prefer to move forward rather than resting on my laurels, I had a general feeling that my presence was either: being continuously swallowed up in the giant ocean that is the Internet - or: that I wasn't shouting at sufficient volume, and for long enough, to make it possible for more of the right people to listen.
So, therefore: I will endeavour, as far as I possibly can, to write at least an article every week about some different aspect of my work - as this will be about the limitation of whatever energies I can muster up to do so. Unlikely though these posts are to present my work in chronological order, they should at the very least provide the most truthful story - straight from the author's mouth - behind what is, after all, my legacy and gift to the world.
That being so - how does what I do - my art, reveal who I am? What God, what strange Promethean figure, lurked behind these creations of mine, fashioned them and made them real?
Below are a few facts about myself. I’ll leave it to you to decide how prominently these facts are conveyed in my work.
* First off, it goes without saying that I love Art. I was born to be an artist. No matter what I did - even if I and Art parted company temporarily and went on to do different things, I would still return to it in the end. Far from it being an unwelcome bedfellow, it is a welcome guiding spirit in my darker moments; a trusted friend and part of me, an entity without whom I am nothing; I, and everybody I know, and who knows me, knows this. If and when you experience my Art, you can take it from me that this will be an eye-opening, educational and hopefully gratifying glimpse inside my mind.
* I love life. I started out drawing anything and everything - energized by the first flush of youth - moving on to botanical and fantastical art, before coming full circle to once again make more generalised renderings of the world around me. The key to truly magnificent work, I eventually found, is knowing that there is endless subject-matter here, there and everywhere just waiting to be explored. I am excited by life. I flip through albums of photographs from several years ago, which plead with me to be turned into the works of the future, when I am more certain about where they and I am going.
* I see life in glorious technicolour, and never anything less. This extends to what is viewed by others as being “psychedelic art”, but which to me is simply normal. I am bipolar, so this may or may not be a contributing factor. Seeing that I “go all the way up to 11” by default, it goes without saying that I am bound to overexaggerate colours for effect.
* I am mad. Yes, I am certified mad. You can relax. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that nobody would tackle the kind of subject-matter that I do, using my manner of rendering. On still another level, I am probably completely sane, and the rest of the world is mad. Who knows?
*I am obsessed with detail. One of the dominant and overriding factors in my work is my obsessive attention to detail. Incorporating detail into my pictures is one way of exercising my control-freakery, which can luckily be construed to be more “productive” and less “busywork”, in my case. My art may not seem overtly “emotional” to some; this is because whatever emotional steam and fury I have worked up, beyond the hard-to-read poker face that I’m told I wear, has invariably been sublimated into the point of my pencil.
*I am impatient. This may seem at odds with the above, but with the advancement of my years I have come to appreciate a bigger-picture view, and prefer to complete a work within a reasonable amount of time, rather than having it hanging around unfinished for ever and a day.
The boldness and visual impact of the image is most important to me. This is why I work predominantly in mixed media, allowing it to do the talking - rather than submerging the original image in a wool of pencil fuzz, in some sort of attempt to reconcile its various parts into some coherent whole.
* I am greedy for the “doing” of Art. I go out of my mind with boredom when I can’t be creative. I see any number of visions waiting to be drawn, inside my head, whereas in real life, I grapple furiously with my pencil, which is trying to catch up with my brain - drawing, redrawing, checking proportions and (when I am at long last satisfied with the result) going through digital treatment that is sufficiently adequate to ensure at least some sort of place for my vision in the wider world.
* I am contrary, and go my own merry way as far as Art is concerned. I do not seek to be answerable to anyone for my work, as it speaks for itself. In short, you have only to trust the storyteller; i.e., me.
So it has been said, my work has few precursors or connections to be found anywhere, with any other work. This has been ventured as an insult towards myself. Personally, I take it as a compliment; as well as with a grain of salt, since it actually isn’t true. But having one’s own ideas is a great thing. Why would I be an artist otherwise? Originality rules, in my world; insipid, personality-less, “generic” art sucks, and I have neither the time or the inclination to want to be a part of it.
If you like my work, let’s talk. If you want to pout and/or dwell on flaws for the sake of it, then I’m not interested - as firstly, I am my own best critic, and secondly, I know my own worth.
* I have never stood still. I do not see it as my responsibility, as an artist, to remain as some sort of time capsule, in terms of my output. There is a tacit pact I have made with my mind, that to continue the same type of work, in the same style, using the same colours, for the next 20 years, would be unbearable for me - and should not and would not, happen. That is not art, nor ever will be. Freedom comes with doing the unexpected - and you can be sure I will, by any stretch of the imagination, always be inclined to gravitate towards the unexpected.