Baring my Truth


I think at some point many of us buy into the idea that in order for an artwork to be good, it needs to be pretty.

It needs to look beautiful hung up in the dining room and it should be soothing or exciting in some way. The composition, without a doubt, needs to be balanced and it should exude a certain skill level. It should also have depth, because after all, artists are, as you all know, deeper beings of some kind. I have had many of those thoughts myself and I’m sure they often hide in my mind waiting to tear down the next anger-filled moment of expression that simply did not comply with the beauties and joys of the soothing life I yearn for. And to that I am learning to say, “No, thank you!"

Thoughts and judgments like these, of what “good art” should look like are many artists stumbling blocks and I am no exception. They are the biggest chokers of all, disguised under masks of critical know-how and knowledgeable assessment.  But when creativity is all about innovation and coming out with your own expression and take on life, then how can anyone, including yourself, know or dictate what your art should look like! To deny yourself the expression of what is unpleasant in your life is to deny half of your potential. To not understand why that ugly, disturbing painting made it onto the gallery wall is to not understand that the potential for artistic expression is as diverse as life itself. Trying to only make “pretty” art is bound to feel extremely limiting.

So maybe your next expression will end up being pretty disturbing rather than pretty… so what? Make it anyway. Because if you stop the flow of the seemingly bad, you also stop the flow of the good. Fearing your “ugly” won’t do you any favors.

Some of the most powerful works I’ve come across have been rather shocking. I wouldn’t necessarily want to place them in my dining room, but it doesn’t stop me from appreciating what they have to offer and it doesn’t stop viewers and critics alike from calling it art. If its truthful and authentic- you’re badly composed, out of perspective ugliness is as worthy as that beautiful one in your dining room.   

I have had that discussion with myself many times as I was deciding on whether to place my self portrait titled “Split” in my website portfolio. Its one of my earlier works. Its not the most skillful and its gory and eerie. I can criticise it to the moon and back. Making it is one thing, but do I really want to showcase it and bare it out into the world? And the answer is yes…. because I created from a place of truthfulness rather than judgment. For me, that’s reason enough.

I am no-longer interested in creating to impress. I create to express and understand my truth- whatever it maybe and however it chooses to come out. Am I ready to bare it all…?


Sarah El Sawi