JOHN SALVESTBack to Artists
For many years I have been engaged in the development of a body of work that focuses on the evocative power of everyday objects. I believe that all of the beauty, courage, sadness, humor and absurdity of the world is reflected in ordinary things. They are, after all, physical evidence of our deepest needs and desires. Hegel once wrote "The familiar is not necessarily the known." As if to illustrate this statement, Magritte made a painting of five men in suits, each with a familiar object--sponge, shell, lemon, pitcher and bow--hovering right in front of his eyes. They stare blankly past the objects as if they are not there. By recharging the half-forgotten objects that fill our lives, I hope to offer an antidote for such numbness. Minutiae such as business cards, wine corks, cigarette butts, and chewing gum are accumulated and used, often with the assistance of language, to create works that communicate personal realizations about time, mortality and the many paradoxes of the human condition, as well as to comment upon the triumphs and follies specific to our own time.
The title of this exhibition comes from William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell, one of which reads, “The busy bee has no time for sorrow.” I chose it because my uncontrollable impulse to salvage and preserve normally ephemeral materials seems to be a gesture against time’s passage and the sorrow of loss associated with it. Conveniently, the process of amassing, organizing and arranging these materials succeeds in keeping me too busy to think much about such things. In fact, I am happiest while lost in the focused and repetitive labor my work requires, but how perfect is that drug? At first Blake’s proverb sounds pretty straightforward, but I think that it’s open to interpretation. To be called a “busy bee” could be either complimentary or critical. On the one hand it suggests useful distraction and its resultant productivity, but on the other it implies the avoidance of a painful yet more complete relationship with the world, and how wise is that…?