Mike Bayne says, “I don’t know.”

Two Coats of Paint’s inbox is awash with gallery press releases this week, some more compelling than others. Canadian Mike Bayne, whose first NYC solo show opens on Thursday, declares in his statement that he doesn’t have any idea why he paints the things he does. Could this be one more indication that work motivated by intuition and instinct is making a comeback? “I think the question I most frequently get asked as a painter is: ‘why do you choose to paint the things you do’? Probably the most truthful answer is that I don’t know.” Bayne writes. “I don’t know why I photograph the things I do. I don’t know why I chose to photograph my subjects in a certain way, under certain lighting conditions. I don’t know why some photographs appeal to me as painting subject matter more than others. What I do know is that I don’t start out with an idea or theme or concept and then strictly adhere to that throughout. I know that my work isn’t a direct response to a political, social or environmental issue. I know that I don’t have a conscious ideological agenda or feel strongly about the way art should be made or the future of art. That isn’t to say I can’t speculate after the fact and wonder whether I chose to paint something because of a personal association, or because of some cultural influence, or because of the way the neurons in my brain have been hardwired or because certain colours may appeal to me more than others at certain times depending on my mood. Those types of things may help to explain the existence of these paintings to some degree. But it’s still speculation and hardly definitive. The truth is that I just don’t find the question very interesting. It doesn’t matter to me why I paint the things I do. And I don’t think that is an anti intellectual or anti conceptual statement. I simply suspect that why I do what I do has a lot less to do with a rational, logical thought process than experiential factors like chance, luck, coincidence, intuition, instinct, belief, habit, emotion, feeling, taste or fashion, amongst others. Maybe that makes my position moderately irrational but I don’t mind that label. It’s not that I reject logic and reason entirely. I think they have their place. But it should be ok to say ‘I don’t know’ when asked ‘why’? That’s probably not a very interesting answer but maybe the answer is determined by the question.”

Mike Bayne: Roadsides,” Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, NY. Sept. 4 – Oct.4.

One Comment

  1. love. this. blog.

    I could agree with it being OK to answer, ‘I don’t know’ to ‘Why do I paint this’. But I don’t buy it entirely, because isn’t asking that question exactly what helps you grow as an artist? Isn’t it that question that provokes risk taking, avoiding habits, strengthening a language?

    Of course Bayne knows, he’s just pulling a Bob Dylan.

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