All ways from the artist’s chair

While browsing an online gallery of works by visual poets from Australia, this image caught my eye and held my gaze. I don’t know its title — I’m guessing “always” — but I do know it’s by Alex Selenitsch, an architect, poet, and sculptor.

It reminded me of several things at once, but something about the angles and relative lengths of the lines (or letter-strings) gave the lasting impression of a chair. Maybe it’s no coincidence that when I searched for more information about the artist, I found a piece he wrote for Haiku Review called “The artist’s chair”. The chair, writes Selenitsch,

has the pivotal place in an artist’s studio. It’s where the artist sits and gazes at what’s just been done, or maybe what was done yesterday, maybe what was done some time ago. . . . Hours were spent confronting the canvas, working out what to do next, momentarily doing it, then more time confronting the results, presumably over and over until some-one took the painting away. The chair is at the centre of this meditative use of the imagination.

Granted, some artists rarely if ever use a chair as a base for their activity. When I make collages, I tend to inhabit the floor, and when I write poems, I’m more likely to be outdoors or sprawled on the bed than squinting at a screen. But a lot of creative work in various media, be it painting, writing, composing or designing, is done from a chair, and I like to see this humble item get credit for helping to prop up the arts (I leave the obvious pun to your imagination), and I wonder if its structure was deliberately evoked in “always”, or whether this similarity emerged by chance.

What do you see in Selenitsch’s visual poem? And do you have a creative relationship with your chair?


5 Responses to All ways from the artist’s chair

  1. Speaking of chairs and verse, we could do with the judiciousness of Kipling’s ‘My Father’s Chair’ in Ireland nowadays, brought down as we are by Church and People.

  2. Stan says:

    PFW: We could indeed, but in light of recent and historical form I’d be more inclined to sit on the ground outside than on the sturdiest chair.

  3. Seeing as my art is made on a computer, I’m sit in a chair while working and stand (usually pace) when looking at the printout of what I’ve just made! But even when I worked in traditional media, an equal amount of my time was spent sitting and looking, sitting and thinking, or sitting and trying to figure out why I’d spent hours slogging over the visual abomination that hung on the wall in front of me. So a chair is an absolutely vital piece of artistic apparatus (almost as important as the kettle!).

  4. Curses! I hit “submit comment” before checking the sense of it. In the first line, “I’m” should read “I”.

  5. Stan says:

    Doubtful: A “vital piece of artistic apparatus” is a good way of putting it! And even when there’s no art being made or mused upon, we spend so much time on chairs, and getting on and off them, that it’s no wonder they so easily go unnoticed, in a way. You’re right to praise the kettle too. I wonder how many weekly miles I clock up moving between the chair and the kettle? It must be a very widespread ritual.

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