Someone had stabbed my painting and left the weapon

I have a disease; a burning need to create and the desire to improve to become the best I can be. I want to craft something beautiful, something timeless. At university they tried to cure me. They persuaded me to lay down my brushes and make the cross over; to join the ranks of artists.

They wanted to unchain me, free me of the past: I could not compete with those painters anyway. Why live in the brown period when I could step into the light of the present day, and through performance and conceptual installations discover my own voice? Don’t bother with paint on canvas – you know, painting died in the ’80s.

As time passed, the group critiques got more aggressive. What I was doing was not what I was supposed to do, but no matter how often they told me to, I could not stop. I had to paint, and I wanted to be good at it. 

One afternoon we had a big group critique, and I was asked to present my painting last. They were brutal, and at the very end of it a teacher got up. The intention was not to give me constructive criticism, but to put out my flame. He kept the carnage going until the class had to be dismissed, not allowing me to defend my work.

As the other students were leaving, all fired up and excited by the cruel words just spoken, the other teacher who was present made his way over to me. He explained to me that his colleague probably didn’t mean what he had just said. To which I answered “of course he did.”

Due to the ruthlessness shown in the critique, the teacher was instructed to give me an apology. I could not believe it! However, shortly after, I found what I thought at first glance to be a misplaced pair of scissors on my studio table. There was something uncanny about its placement. It seemed slightly arranged, and it had long canvas-like strings of thread hanging from it.

Someone had stabbed my painting and left the weapon. It felt like an act of hatred. Not so much towards me, but of what I was trying to accomplish. I knew I would never be one of them.

I am not an artist. 

Now we will throw these mediocre kitschmongers into slavery, and teach them to venerate the German spirit and to worship the German God.

— Arnold Schönberg, 1914