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A Brief Reflection on Mastering The Basic

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

“It took me a lifetime.” ― Pablo Picasso




As an art student in the 90s, I was primarily concerned with grandiose ideas and concepts, driven by the belief that I was avant-garde. I was part of a group of fellow students who called ourselves the "renegades," and I focused on creating outrageous installations and performances to garner attention from the public and my peers. However, I was more interested in gaining fame and notoriety than in developing any real artistic skills, and I was too lazy to invest the time and effort required to truly master my craft. I mistakenly believed that good ideas alone were enough to transform or save humanity through my creative endeavors. Looking back, I can see that my motivations were rooted in youthful ego and a lack of self-worth.


Now that I am in my 50s and have spent years traveling and divorced from creating artwork for almost two decades, I have rediscovered my love of street art. During my recent trip to Mexico, I was inspired by the joy of creation that I witnessed in the street art that adorned abandoned buildings, crumbling walls, and alleyways. I was struck by the way in which street artists were able to present powerful ideas, concepts, and stories with skill and mastery, without seeking any recognition or notoriety.


In contrast, I now realize that during my earlier years as an artist, I was pretentious and more interested in gaining attention and notoriety than in creating art for its own sake. I did not create art for myself, but rather to satisfy my desire for fame and attention.

Now, however, I approach creative pursuits as a way to feed my curiosity and learn new skills. I am relearning how to draw and sketch, and I am fascinated by the intricacies of shading and color theory. I enjoy the act of creating without any grandiose intentions, simply as a way to engage in a meditative practice that allows me to explore my own creative impulses. Ultimately, I believe that creation is a fundamental aspect of being and becoming, and that the act of creating something - no matter how small or seemingly insignificant - is a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself.


A Brief Reflection on Mastering The Basic

by Quan NGUYEN 3/05/202

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