No Explanation Necessary

by Kara Messina

Francis Bacon: The important thing for a painter is to paint and nothing else. Most important is to look at the painting, to read the poetry, to listen to music, not in order to understand it or know it, but to feel something”.



This Francis Bacon quote made me reflect on my preoccupation with wanting to understand everything so I could explain it…but to whom? My desired customer or was it the middlemen ‘media and marketing’? 

Subconsciously wanting to please the press had infiltrated my creative process and had me justifying my ideas before I have even arrived at the final outcome (I presume we may all fall prey to it at times -artists envision their private views, musicians anticipate their album reviews, writers contemplate their book launches). Is an explanation an attempt at controlling how the product is perceived and received? Do we invest our efforts coercing the public for maximum visibility or is it because the product by itself is pretty uninspiring? 

Undoubtedly attempting to find a suitable explanation can limit the product’s potential because calculating your media strategy too early in the creative process robs you of the pleasure of the work itself, which is what Francis Bacon is talking about. The freedom achieved in the “doing” is only experienced in the present rather than in the future anticipated response.

Press of course is part of the process, campaigns curate the space in which the product is to be received, they give a brand kudos and provide exposure. Unfortunately with the rise of social media what is happening more often is a shift in ‘hype’ being the selling point and the product itself comes secondary. Selling products of the back of hype is encouraging lazy design. The standard I am setting myself is to approach product development with the thought that ultimately these products will exist independently in everyday life where people will form their own translation and interpret them in their own language, so they need to be able to stand alone without accompanying texts, interviews and endless social media feeds.

What is there to talk about? The garment, track, film, art piece…itself is the expression; words of explanation are inadequate alongside the product itself. As Wolfgang Tillmans aptly describes it in relation to art:



From: Wolfgang Tillmans & Mark Wigley Hammer Conversations

Wolfgang Tillmans: Without wanting to mystify art I do believe a lot of what makes art work are the things you can’t talk about


Originally written in 2014