And the spirit of the Lord came to Roy, saying
And hold up a mirror
Take a frame from a comic book and elevate it into art
pouring your blood, sweat and talent into it
Show your culture that what they consign as worthless has value
but also that what they claim as worthless actually has a great hold over them, the proliferation of images of women cleaning, warplanes rat-at-at-at-ing, women drowning in romance, actually show their values up. Worthless is commonplace, but commonplace is not worthless. You are to take into yourself the act of devoting all your creative energy to something that is worthless, and saying to your culture: look, you pretend to give value to high art and noble causes, but you spend the majority of your money and time lurching from the military to the romance section of your mind…where your treasure is, there your heart will be.
Now, turn your comic book gaze onto landscapes and seascapes and I will give you hope. because even in those reductive lines, as the curator calls them, you will be able to capture the joy of sunrise.
Now, turn to the art your culture respects, unlike yours. Enter into the vastnesses of your tradition with your own brushstrokes, your own technique. Render the masters in comic book dots and lines. For there is no difference between high art and low art unless it is in the spirit, for if it is without love then it is as a clanging cymbal, whether it be Matisse or Michelangelo.
Now your culture is not listening, so paint. Paint mirrors. Blank mirrors to ram the point home. Say, I am holding up a mirror to you and see, there is nothing to reflect.
Now paint nudes. Go back to your old comic book clippings, and find those romantic women, drawn in ideal curves. Undress them. Paint them nude and some of them looking out at the male gaze that you are undressing. Now we have arrived at the basics.
You have done well. Now you may paint what you wish. The Chinese masters? Very well, seek your solitude and meaning. I am waiting.
After visiting the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at Tate Modern.