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by Frank Lunar / 25.11.2015

I’m not too sure if I’m able express this in words. I am a visual artist. But I’ll try.

We are brought up to believe that being an artist is an occupation and not a state of mind. Most of us have accepted this lie as truth and have left those who have been pointed out as “artists” or “creatives” to do the creating.

This rigid understanding of creativity is a result of a well thought out ploy by entities I call The Five Pillars. Project Eden was my second solo exhibition held this year during the months of September and October at The Drawing Room Gallery in Observatory, Cape Town. With these series of A0 paintings (five in total), I spoke about what I refer to as the pillars of manipulation in modern day society and how they tame us into subservient underlings. The pillars, in order of exposure, are: One: Religion. Two: Education. Three: Money. Four: The Media and Five: Fear.

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All five pillars have played a considerate role in suppressing our creativity. The pillars are what hold up this monetary system and understand that not violence, but creativity in the end, is what can destroy it. Wherever we turn, we are reminded by the system of what creativity or art “should” be. The galleries, the art schools, the magazines and the stages. These special people who appear in these spaces and are responsible for these works of art are either well trained by the finest or have been touched by God. Either way, they are not like you and me and we shouldn’t even try to do what they do. Any other forms of creative expression that do not adhere to these categories are considered vandalism. Plain and simple. We have accepted the prescribed reality, propagated by the pillars and in turn, traded our free thinking for security. This is dangerous. Extremely dangerous.

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Whenever we look at what makes our lives that much more fulfilling, we see creativity. Whether it’s the smartphone in your hand, the music in your headphones, the book in your backpack, the car that you drive in, the coat you’re wearing, the food you’re eating or just dancing with your friends. With all of those examples, we had something starting from nothing. Intention into manifestation. Someone, somewhere had to think and sketch all of those ideas and concepts up. Sadly, however, many doing that right now, would not consider themselves creatives or artists.

I have always believed that art is anything that processes beauty, whether man-made or not. With the combination of aesthetics and practicality, we as humans have managed not only to make the world a more interesting looking place, but have also made it easier to navigate our way around it. There are countless examples of creativity in our everyday life that we take for granted, simply because it does not fit into what we have been told is art.

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I want us to take a step back to our earliest introduction to the five pillars, as explained, and how it succeeded in convincing us that not all of us are artists. To understand where this self-doubt with regards to creativity comes from (especially with “non-artsists “), I want us to go back to those earliest days of conditioning. Somewhere I want us to take our powers back from the teacher who said graffiti is ugly. From the parent who said art is not a good career. From the priest who said rock ‘n roll is from the devil. From the dad who said poetry is not for boys. These voices have done nothing but make us ashamed of that one time we tried to express ourselves. We look back at those memories and cringe, thinking “they were right”.

The life of the artist goes beyond what he is able to create with his hands. An artist understands that the gift of creativity is his biggest asset to connecting with others. He therefore takes time to perfect his craft. He therefore makes sure that what he puts out represents his values. He understands that what he puts out has the ability to influence and inspire, so it best be positive. And for this, he is constantly reassessing his inner landscape. An artist is critical of anything that limits his ability to create art. For if his/her message is that of truth, then it should be heard.

An artist cannot be controlled, as he understands that he himself is not in control of what inspires him. One who cannot be controlled, cannot be enslaved.

I want us to understand that deep down the pillars fear creatives. Therefore by convincing us that not all of us are creatives, it minimizes the level of free thinking that goes on. In a system where free thinking could literally put your life at risk, many would just follow the status quo. But the status quo never had our well being at heart and it’s time for us to take our power back.

To do so, we first have to claim our own creativity.

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This text was written as an introduction to Frank Lunar’s free public workshop on ‘creativity & freedom’ at The Harare Academy of Inspiration, Khayelitsha. To be held on Thursday 26 November. Check out their Facebook page for details here. (Original text edited for brevity/clarity).

Artwork © Frank Lunar from the ‘Project Eden‘ exhibition

Images © Matthew Heihlein

Frank Lunar is Capetonian artist, expressing himself with illustration, music, drawings and words.

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