“Fernandez talks about ‘bliss’ - a term I’ve often used. It was through writing about my practice, together with making my work, that I found my ‘bliss’. I wish I’d had Fernandez’s book back in those times when overwhelming doubt inhibited my practice. He brings enlightenment to thinking about art and why artists do what they do. This can help give an artist conviction, and therefore confidence, and a lay person a heightened appreciation of art. This most enjoyable read will bring great insight to artists and lay people alike. A truly inspiring read!”
I picked the book up rather tentatively. While I love good music and am a huge movie buff, I wouldn’t consider myself exactly an art aficionado. I do appreciate a good painting if it is obviously beautiful, but anything with a little more depth and I’d be staring in puzzlement. But it was the ‘change your life’ part of the title of this book that drew me to it. And it delivers- in spades !!
This book uses art as the canvas to draw out some very specific and very practical lessons for life. From making better decisions, to improving our relationships, to changing our attitudes, opening our minds to possibilities - it is quite a powerful set of insights from a field you’d normally just associate with appreciation and enjoyment. That art has so much depth and so much potential to teach and change is the crowning achievement of this book. Ivan Fernandez is obviously an art lover but his skill lies in extracting lessons from paintings, music pieces, the lives of artists, a poem. He has a very conversational and punchy style and very often you have to pause and reflect on what you’ve just read, as the insight or takeaway hits you. He’s done a few interviews with several Australian artists - perhaps the book could have given us more from them as well - but that’s a small quibble in an outstanding book. Don’t miss it.
In this work, Ivan Fernandez bears a heavy mental cross in his passionate search for the reason, the epiphany and the why. Through interviewing artists, he asks them to reflect on aspects of their creativity; he digs into the place that is the essence of mankind’s need to create; to be or not to be creative and draws a line between the artist and others.
The elusive creative moment, so fragile that if not recovered within its appointed time no longer exists - this excites the author and the reader. The two then blend into one entity, both passionately striving for answers within the creative act to bring forth new questions for all of us to ponder.
This book was a journey for me, outside, inside. It opened my eyes to the beauty in forms of art beyond the ones I’m familiar with (film, some forms of music) to other forms that are no less beautiful. It opened my eyes to how uplifting, ennobling, empowering art can be even when the most gifted artists seem – to us - to lead lonely, desperate lives. They appear to be privy to an inner joy that only they can experience even if they cannot quite fathom it. It rekindled in me my long-lost passion for free-hand, pencil/pen drawing and I’ve now started drawing again – after 25 years! I also plan to start playing my guitar again – who knows this time I might stay the distance! The book has some nice photographs but I really wish there were more to go with the thoughtful, reflective tone of the text; I hope that the author will include a wider range of images in the next edition.
The joy that art offers is inexplicable, hard to put your finger on, but it’s often more real, more lasting than the ones we cheat ourselves into seeking. The author writes with an explicit love of beauty in all art and awe of the heroism he finds in the artists he loves. But his book is breathtaking in its embrace. He says “an improved awareness of art, as a possible avenue to peak experience and an enriched life, is a good first step to opening ourselves to its power” and he delivers – I came away stunned by how much there is to learn about art that even so-called experts take for granted and the humility that’s required to be open enough to learn something new, something different – even if that’s a new way of seeing the old. If you’re writing about any art, appreciating it, experiencing it, learning or practising it, commending it to others this book is a wonderful addition to the books you’ve already read. Doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or novice, professional or amateur, you’ll find the author’s childlike, occasionally boisterous love for art and artists infectious, endearing.
“Ivan Fernandez’s cross-disciplinary approach - infusing insights from philosophy, literature, music and art - make this book a great read!”
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