Thought— 2 Min Read

Art Philosophy Pt.2

by Case Greenfield, March 5, 2022

Thought – 2 Min Read

Art Philosophy Pt.2

by Case Greenfield

March 5, 2022

I cannot ‘just paint’ or ‘just create’. Whatever I make needs a story, a philosophy. It’s how my brain is wired, apparently. Despite the fair question whether a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything” makes sense at all, some sort of innate need for it in my brain urges me to create an art philosophy. Here’s an addition to my earlier first try on September 1st, 2021.

In this story, first I try to explain my art philosophy, and next I try to translate this to finding my my voice in art. As you may know by now, it is all based on the notion of what I have come to call “mind models, the realities that we create to shape ourselves”.


With my art, I try to express the messy mixture in our brain of the four realities: universal reality, scientific reality, social reality and personal reality or, more subjectively, the three realities: our daily reality (what we do), our self-created realities (our needs and desires) and a new, dawning reality (the brutal facts of the rapidly changing world around us).

It basically springs off ideas of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russell and esp. Ludwig Wittgenstein: instead of trying to find the limits of objectively valid knowledge (Kritik der reinen Vernuft) or trying to find the logical structure of reality in the logical structure of language (the correspondence theory from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) by using logic and language — based on insights from neuroscience and other sciences (eg. Antonio Damasio or Eric Kandel) on the workings of our brain, I try to use art to somehow merge objective ratio and subjective emotion into a consistent yet messy whole (because otherwise it is hard to bear for us: warm grounding), taking eg. the work of Wittgenstein as a source of inspiration (like eg. artists like Steve Reich and Barnett Newmann did), rather than taking philosophy as an explanation of reality. Accepting that ethical expressions – eg. about good and evil – are not objectively about reality but are a subjective condition for the realities that we create, much like Russian philosophers Leo Tolstoj and Fjodor Dostojevski did, I prefer not to use language, but rather art to express my ideas, giving my art an almost therapeutic working.

Additionally, of course, there is a strong psychological side in ‘mental models’. Mental models easily compare with schemata in psychology: “patterns of thought or behavior that organize categories of information and the relationships among them or mental structures of preconceived ideas, frameworks representing aspects of the world, or systems in our mind of organizing and perceiving new information”. Schemata then lead to behavioral scripts: “sequences of expected behaviors for a given situation, including default standards for the actors, props, setting, and sequence of events that are normally expected to occur in a particular situation”. In my art, I try to express the fuzzy battle in our heads between unconscious, unplanned feelings, thoughts and behavior (Kahneman’s ‘system 1’) springing from schemata and expressed in scripts (social and personal realities) on the one hand and conscious, planned feelings, thoughts and behavior (Kahneman’s ‘system 2’) derived from universal and scientific realities on the other hand.


The mixture of realities is expressed in my art by mixing well-thought intent and spontaneous expression in the moment of creation, and by using mixed media techniques, such as acrylic, pastel and oil paint, markers and spray, combining different color palettes, graphic and painting styles, abstract and realistic elements, different scales and more, into a varied yet consistent whole – creating artworks with both an identifiable tension and an identifiable feeling of comfort, that I like to call “Warm Grounding“.

Now, exactly how this is going to work out in artworks will be my quest for the next twenty years. To be honest, I hope to live long enough to find a satisfying answer …

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