Before the events of recent weeks unfolded I noticed with interest the imagery used by the Queensland Art Gallery on their brochure to promote the exhibition of American Impressionism & Realism, with the tag line of – ‘come face to face with some true American icons‘… Interesting in that I thought it was a clever advertising campaign, and interesting because in recent years it was sometimes forgotten that Michael Jackson was indeed a ‘true American icon’.
Regardless of what he did or didn’t do in his (not-so) private life, there is no denying that his contribution to the world of entertainment, and more specifically, his contribution to dance and music was a significant one. I was never an ardent fan of his music (of which he inspired many), but I was certainly an appreciator of his obvious talent for creating ‘an experience’ through music and dance. I grew up with his music and while I may not have known at that time how much he would change the listening landscape, there was certainly a feeling or some distant idea that he was producing something incredibly unique – a musical innovator of sorts.
You don’t have to personally know someone to feel a sense of loss when they’re gone. When you’ve interacted with a person’s art or been emotionally moved by some kind of shared experience (no matter how far removed you are from them physically in time and space), it’s nice to know that they are still out there somewhere in the world and potentially still capable of achieving further greatness. So when these people pass away, there is a feeling of finality in your knowledge of them through their art, future potentials and possibilities are suddenly no more, and what remains is a sense of sadness.
I don’t buy into the whole crazy world of celebrity, but this doesn’t stop me from keenly missing ‘the artistic presence’ of a few icons which are sadly no more. I still feel connected in some way, shape or form (and for many different reasons) to people like John Lennon, George Harrison, Douglas Adams and David Eddings. And yes, Michael Jackson will also be missed – the world was not the same with him in it, and it will never be the same again now that he has gone.
While the conversation is now one-sided, I am grateful that I can still ‘communicate’ with those that are now lost by revisiting their art, a process which can be as simple as listening to their music, watching a film, opening a book…or yes, even looking at a painting…