The inaccessible land

Riann Coulter explores Mark Shields’ guiding philosophy on making art, as a new departure in his practice is unveiled at the FE McWilliam Gallery

In his 1942 essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, Albert Camus set out his philosophy of the absurd. Examining man’s futile search for meaning in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God, Camus compared the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, the figure from Greek mythology, who was condemned to repeat for eternity the task of pushing a boulder up a mountain only for it to roll down again. Camus concludes ‘The struggle itself (…) is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy’.1 Although neither an absurdist nor an atheist, Mark Shields shares Camus’ belief that it is the struggle that counts. It is through the effort to wrestle meaning from life that art is made.

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