I think a lot of graffiti is crude, even ugly, because it’s an expression of frustration. Someone’s pissed off at the world and can’t do anything about it so they deface something. Or they’re just bored and channel their energy into a scrawl, a scribble, into destroying something. The idea that destruction is a creative act goes back at least as far as Nietzsche’s ideas about Dionysus and the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin who said, “The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!” This was adopted by Picasso and Braque who created Cubism as a way of destroying and recreating the way art is visualized, but that’s another story.
I thought about all this when I was sitting in a laundromat and noticed something. It seemed like an expression of frustration and boredom, but I realized that such dark feelings can still produce something beautiful. Sometimes defacing isn’t destruction; it’s creation, it’s revelation. It takes an empty space and makes it better.
And on another note hail and farewell Leonard Cohen. Here’s his expression, I think, of some of the same feelings.
Oh Leonard – my rock during the teen years. What a great poet and gentle man. Thank you for this reminder.
Even when he sang about incredibly dark things there was something deeply comforting about his voice. The beauty is even though he may be gone we still have his songs to remember him by.
Everybody knows..he will be missed. The laundromat artist is anonymous but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they go one to create more art for more to share?
It would be wonderful and it’s something I always hope for whenever I see great graffiti: that the artist will create more works, perhaps even works that will be seen by more people. It’s happened before; some successful artists have started out doing graffiti.
Thanks to you, to Leonard Cohen, and to other artists for taking empty spaces and making them better.
Thank you for adding your comment to this space.
The portrait on the wood wall is very nice. I like that someone made the sterility of a laundromat into a mini gallery. Wonderful post.
Thank you–I like that phrase “the sterility of a laundromat”. It was very striking to me too that it’s a place where so much gets washed away but someone added something that will be more or less a permanent work for others to enjoy.