Are Paintings Alive?

At some point in the painting process, the painting takes over and exerts its own energy. It has become something in and of itself.

What might that mean?

My paintings might be ‘alive’ – alive in a sense that they project themselves as a reality in the world, with a personality expressed visually, and to which, we as viewers interact.

Sometimes we are moved by the painting and want to discuss with it what it means.

Perhaps we project onto the painting what we are thinking and imbue it with our own personality, in which our world view and painting merge.

We do talk about a painting as though it were a person, what it means to us, and why we may have bought it to hang in the house.

Bringing a new painting into a home is like having someone move in. The painting changes everything. We choose art to be in one room but not another, to hang here but not there, to be seen as you come into the house, or at the top of the stairs. And paintings we hang in bedrooms are an intimate expression.

This was the subject of a recent exhibition of mine in France. Here is a view of the paintings interpreting the aliveness of paintings. What do you think?

Are these 7 paintings alive?
[Acrylic on canvas. Large two are 100cm high.]

There has been some lively discussion on this subject. See the following for some ideas that helped me frame my own thinking.

WJT Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? – The Lives and Loves of Images. University of Chicago, 2006.

Isabelle Graw, The Love of Painting: Genealogy of a Success Medium. Sternberg Press, 2018.

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth & Isabelle Graw, Painting Beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-Medium Condition: Reflexivity and Agency beyond the Canvas. Sternberg Press, 2016.