|Barbed wire and a plant - 2004|
Maybe not every single moment of one's existence is dictated by suffering, but can one really be an artist - a poet, a writer, an actor, or a musician - without having experienced a degree of sorrow? In other words, can a happy man be a successful artist?
When I say "artists" I am referring to grand and genial personalities who created masterpieces and key concepts during this and the past centuries: Melville, Kerouac, Dostoyevsky, Poe, to name a few writers; musicians like Beethoven Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler; actors and directors like Kubrick, Volonté, Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy; painters like Van Gogh and Modigliani; scientists like Tesla and Einstein.
I often noticed how famous but not talented actors were able to obtain a high and touching performance while going through a rough patch. For some curious incidence, the character they portray is going through a similarly tragic moment. This is the case with actors like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD, Mel Gibson in The Beaver, Stallone in Rocky, only to name a recent few.
Herman Melville expressed through Moby Dick his outcry against the cruelty of God while Beethoven cast his challenge at God by creating his masterpiece, the Symphony #9, when he was completely deaf. Many of the artists I mentioned here were scarred by a life of extreme poverty, or they experienced family losses at a very young age, depression, mal d'etre, exile, physical impairment, extreme solitude, with all the consequences that such conditions imply.
As we can see, many great works arise from a tragic moment in the life of their authors, and the ones I mentioned are just some of the most notable examples.
I can't help wondering, then, with the pretense of knowing the answer, whether the unhappiness in the life of all of these artists can be considered the main agent in the greatness of their creations.