The futility, contradictions and fulfillment of creating art

By Steven Edson | Sep 29, 2020

Pablo Picasso once said, “We all know that art is not the truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”


Horizontal color photograph of one person swimming and the other caught in mid-air while jumping into the ocean water.


Artists create work to discover what something becomes after they push the edges of their skills and vision. Some artists know the story they want to tell before they start; others discover the story once they have completed the work. Most artists can’t help themselves from creating new work, doubling and tripling down as they try to find the holy grail within their creations.

We work in various states of mind, all while our voices are trying to find meaning and relevance within patterns, colors, lines, forms, and shapes, and content. Visual artists are a different breed of people who pursue their voices and attempt to tell a compelling story within their chosen media. Some use figurative art while others use emotion infused in abstraction to find a voice for their obsession and passion.

As visual artists we grapple with the question, do our creations have to be relevant to an audience to be validated as art? Or is it simply enough that we feel compelled and driven to make art that satisfies ourselves. An audience of one is a very lonely place, but that is where most art begins and ends.

In the editing process of reviewing hundreds of thousands of images made, it has taken me years to discover the importance of a photograph that I made decades earlier and bypassed it without much taking much notice or acknowledgment of its importance. Why did it take so long for me to realize the magic that was cloaked in ambiguity and had been passed over in the initial edits? Maybe that ambiguity was exactly what I was seeking but could not recognize at the time.

Art is a relationship between the work and the viewer. If we are lucky, we can establish long term relationships with art that we love. If that happens, we become a part of that art as that art becomes a part of us. For me, that clearly describes the success of the artist in convincing others in the truthfulness of its lies and the value and need for living surrounded by art.

Steven Edson

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1 Comment

  1. Joanne Tarlin on October 3, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Relevancy, lIke rain, can be beneficial in a drought. As one’s perspective changes, so may the quality of appreciation.

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