Portrait of a Refugee
To those well wishers who persist in doling out this suggestion to me, I would like to thank you but I would also like to clarify that my job as an artist is to draw and paint. If an exhibition happens it is incidental - a by product of my generated work, [like the joy of getting this teensy image of my work on a CNN site ]. I don’t exist as an artist to exhibit my work. I exist to draw.
I would also like you who give me this suggestion to consider this:
Would you ask a doctor (any doctor), “Why don’t you perform a brain surgery?”
Would you ask a lawyer, “Why don’t you do a cross examination?”
Would you ask a software engineer, “Why don’t you go work in Infosys?”
You wouldn't would you? These questions would show up the fact that you know nothing about the profession that you are advising the professional about with your well meaning suggestion. Well, it is the same when you suggest to an artist.
Somehow when it comes to artists, everyone knows exactly what it means to be a painter. Anyone can do it. And anyone can offer advice on how to be one. Just whip up a dozen paintings and have an exhibition! Once a month if possible! Of course you know somebody who does that and you too would do it if you just had the time to do more of those pencil shadings and watercolours that you used to be so good at in Art class.
Recently a neighbour dropped by and noticed some of my paintings hanging on my wall.
Who did this?
You? But this is professional! I thought you painted as a recreation. Did you copy it from a magazine or book or something?
Did you photocopy and trace it from a greeting card?
You did it entirely yourself?
My! Why don’t you have an exhibition?
Ah hah! I knew you'd say that !
I don’t understand the connection between appreciating my work (albeit with those strange questions about them) and ‘having an exhibition’. If you like some paintings it seems logical to ask if one could see more of them or perhaps inquire where they are sold. But to almost immediately ‘mentor’ me and tell me how I should run my professional life...
And of course if I did have an exhibition, the immediate and predictable question asked would be,
“So how many paintings did you sell?”
Now why would you want to know?