Greg Somers: Become An Artist

The Archibald Prize is perhaps Australia’s most celebrated art prize and you can currently see the finalists here. The final result will be announced later this week, and while I’m really impressed by all the finalists I wanted to single one in particular out for special mention here.

The longer I look at Greg Somers’ Self Portrait with The Picture of Dorey In Grey the more I love it. “Dorey In Grey?” you might wonder aloud. Try Dorian Gray, that invention by Oscar Wilde, an individual who was completely obsessed with living forever and staying forever youthful.

So how does an individual grapple with such concerns? Well the artist himself has some ideas. If you look at the small writing on the bottom of that multi-faceted tie you’ll see the following:

“Become an artist. Immortality is to die for.”

The artist may age but the individual portrayed in the image will not. The artwork will outlive the artist, it will live on long after he is no more. The artist doesn’t become immortal by selling his soul (as Dorian does in Wilde’s tale) rather he leaves some essence of himself with the world before he departs.

You often hear the expression “Don’t die with your music still in you.” The idea is simple – express what you have to express while you can, don’t bite your tongue. But similarly I would say don’t forget to share what you’ve created with the world. As I explained to my friend Sam recently:

By all means explore all your options (and I’m keen to see where the next 30 days take you) but don’t die with the novel sitting in a drawer somewhere. Don’t deny humanity your particular individual contribution just because a deal didn’t ‘come together’ or that the powers that be couldn’t decide on which market gap you might fit.

Be an artist, leave a legacy, become immortal.

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