New Essay: “In Praise of Grime”

Carefully drawn lines delineating the exact form I envisioned. It looks exactly like I wanted it to – from mind to paper. 

However…

What is missing?

Everything is so perfectly detailed. Nothing is missing from the motive. But somehow it seems incomplete, and I just know that adding more details will destroy it.

What am I missing?

Years of practice has taught me a valuable lesson: Grime is my friend.

Every smudged fingerprint is a blessing. Every tiny amount of stray paint or pastel dust – amazing. Actual dirt? Even better.

It is so counter-intuitive.

I used to think that “cleaning up” a drawing was the next-to-final stage that came right before signing it.

It is not.

It is an act of vandalism.

Removing all traces of process somehow chips off the motive – and obscures its soul.

Why is that?

No idea. I can only observe that it seems to work that way.

Perhaps removing the artist from the equation cuts the roots of the artwork – rendering it a strange singularity with no connection to the real world.

Perhaps the fact that dirt and grime exists all around it – if even by small amounts – makes the artwork seem unnatural if it is the only thing left out.

I won’t purport to necessarily understand.

I just know what works for me. And figuring that out has been a long and tiresome journey since we are conditioned to aim for overdone cleanliness everywhere.

Published By: K-M Skalkenæs

Danish poet, writer and painter. Writings include her own original poetry in English and Danish, and translations of poetry from the Scandinavian languages and German into English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.