Ahead of his/her time

What do you want to do when you grow up?

— I want to be famous.

Okay, but what will you be famous for?

— I dunno. Does it matter, really? I just want to be admired … and to live forever.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it?!! Actually, the “fame bug” has bitten many of us. Some of us are impatient to “make it” in terms of being recognised or becoming “household names”, making 100% of our salaries from our art, music or writing, formidable wealth, coveted awards and prizes, accomplishments such as dozens of published books, digital music recordings, art exhibitions at famous galleries and museums, etc. — while we are still alive (and hopefully before we are forty-something); and others smugly console ourselves with thinking that we are “just ahead of our time”, and wait for the world to catch up to us (after all, being recognised as once “misunderstood and unappreciated geniuses” in the annals of history is no mere door prize).

But what are the effects of the desire to become famous on artists, and their work? On the way we see the world? Upon our personalities, our tolerances of humanity? And is anyone ever really “ahead of his/her time”? Does fame in our own lifetimes make us more exciting artists, or can it lead to laziness and loss of focus?

Jean Cocteau: “The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.”

That quote is priceless. Is it not passionate intoxication with the art itself that spurs us on to new ways of thinking and expressing ourselves, and often in adversity, non-acceptance, poverty? And is it not more satisfying to create a new genre or style, than to compete with others in already prescribed ways of artistic expression and form? Perhaps, for some of us … but certainly not for all. Poverty, non-acceptance and adversity are not “romantic”, and they sometimes get in the way of our creative drive and intuition. That is a lonely route to travel; and although we may sincerely believe that we have genius “ahead of our time” we can never be certain that we will – in fact – be judged positively decades or centuries after death.

Therefore, I ignore the romanticism of the misunderstood and starving artist/poet, as well as contemporary trends in art and the “fame bug”. I prefer to listen to my critics, test out their wishes for my art and literature in private, throw out what I cannot use … and continue to explore. More than one “conservative/old school” critic has been advised to instead go write his/her own book or paint his/her own painting in just the way that they wish I would have done.

I have no “niche”, and I do not wish to be pigeon-holed or recognised as “this, that or the other” artistically (at least not before the history books have to struggle with categorising me — long after my death). I may expound philosophical rants from time to time, but just as my art and literature are not always necessarily direct reflections of my opinions, experiences or politics, they are a part of me on some level — if none other than individual consciousness vs. collective consciousness, and are thus subject to change, expand, decrease, deceive, provoke and even to bore with banality.

It is that freedom that I insist upon (albeit it oftentimes exists solely in my own mind) that awards me the possibility to think and create outside of the box, to be creative in sometimes different ways, to embrace the countless possibilities in Life and in Art, to take chances, to fall on my face artistically and learn better solutions and techniques in my next oeuvre, and to never give up on being creative — no matter how unknown or unsuccessful I may be in the eyes of fame-seekers and celebrity-idols, or persons who wish to impose their own visions of reality and the world upon my art.

Many years ago, an art customer of mine who had purchased several large paintings suddenly asked me when I thought I would become “famous”, so that the value of the investments would appreciate. I smiled and replied: “Perhaps in some years, perhaps never. In the meantime, it is best to buy art that you love and which enriches your surroundings and life.”

In 2006, the New York Times ran an excellent article entitled “The Fame Motive”

It provides much insight into the questions I am addressing.

Decades ago, I was at an afternoon concert at Carnegie Hall, which included a new piece by the then “newly eminent” composer Witold Lutoslawski on the program. There were many senior citizens in the audience (many were then the age that I am now). Shortly after the piece began almost one-third of the audience rose up and left the concert hall in protest. The music was just too much for them — too contemporary. It was – perhaps – ahead of its time. Or was it just out of sync with THEIR time?

Will I manage to keep up with new art in time? Or should I just make my own time?

— Adam Donaldson Powell



Identity and idolatry.

High on the red pills (Oil on canvas).
High on the red pills (Oil on canvas).


Don’t be afraid …
and don’t be a bioche,
or a jackass of all trades.
Can’t you see that I don’t really
want to have sex with you … ?
I want to be loved, and looked up to;
and I sometimes want to “be you”.
Am I searching for identity in
all the “wrong places”? Perhaps,
but the part I dislike the most is that
I will do almost anything to get it:

(“Gaytude”, 2009, Cyberwit publishing.)



Some people long for Spring,
and dream of assuaging the
bitter sores of Winter’s
darkness and solitude with
woodland walks and premature
sojourns to outdoor cafes.
And some people visualize
this year’s perfect garden,
an unusually colorful
palette of vibrant flora
exploding with hopefulness
and lust for living.
Or rather plan exotic
Summer vacations, June
weddings and cozy, social
outings with friends and
loved ones on traditional
holidays in April and May.
But others, like me, spend
year-long winters cuddled up in
blankets next to the fireplace,
reading about “some people”
in novels and romance magazines —
with utmost preoccupation.


responding to the call
of a warm summer night,
the muscled youth surveys the
streets from his oakland stoop
with the vigilance of a vulture.
he soothes the heat
pervading his loins
with beer and cigarettes,
and gyrates to rhythms
from his sony walkman to
intensify his baiting scent.
at the passing of each female,
he extends greetings and suggestion —
lastly to a haughty one who
requests that he kindly ‘drop dead.’
the youth throws a kiss and laughs
in sport and self-defence,
until he spies the adoring stare
of another boy, and yells:
“what are you looking at, faggot?!!”

(from “Collected poems and stories”, 2005, Cyberwit publishing.)



Walking the fine line
between glamour and
sobriety … taking care not
to fall between the
cracks … not to believe
in the darkness of the
daylight alone,
away from the glitter
of champagne cocktail nights,
designer jackets,
tastefully-torn jeans
and uncomfortable shoes.
The music must not stop;
shine the camera on me
just a little bit longer. See:
I am setting the pace,
flaunting a fashion statement.
Synthetic is but a natural
reaction against reality.
Just give me my moment.
A self-made idol;
cliches spat out and
Yes, I could be a star.
What … my name?
I am just part of the
rhythm, the lights are
my melody against the
night of glittering glam.
A torn off piece of
average sparkling
against the annals of
history and the

(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Rapture: endings of space and time”, 2007)

High on the blue pills (Oil on canvas).
High on the blue pills (Oil on canvas).

Another old man rant … more about the “fame bug”.


a few persons feel that media focus on beyonce’s pimples and other similar crap is senseless in light of the other challenges that face us, and that which people and the media are not so concerned about.


i do not disagree. however, i am quite aware of how facebook, media, tv, internet rating campaigns and advertising shape our attitudes and behavior … tending towards creation of the perfect individual and the newest privileged social classes, and further making us into slaves and desperate consumers. that is why i periodically make blog postings about the phenomenon, and proclaim myself to be non-extraordinary. this man exemplifies how all this egotism can go quite wrong:


of course, his fan who tried to emulate him by stealing his limelight was knocked back into her place … and seemingly without a second thought or apology. when you think about it, many try to compete for limelight without having talent or putting in the work. these “stars” who have made it know that they must step on the peons who get too big for their britches … like in the film classic “all about eve”. but what about our value systems, that promote extremism in consumption, in sex, instant fame and filthy wealth, double morals and narcissism, selfishness, and the constant search for new and bigger thrills to boast about … from climbing the highest peaks to “50 shades mastery” to “extreme tourism” where hunting down endangered species in africa or civilians in syria and iraq are coveted trophy experiences. it is not political or religious ideologies that breeds economic, social and political terrorism … it is selfishness, greed, power-hunger, and the constant quest to go down in history and “to live forever”. what is wrong with humanity? the only thing we love better than creating superstars is seeing them fall into disgrace and failure, because then we can convince ourselves that they were never any better than we are.

how much money do you earn? how much is your house worth? how big is your dick / are your tits? how many books have you published and sold recently? how many art exhibits do you have per year? who are the famous persons in your network, or as your “friends” in social media? blah, blah, bullshit. i am sick and tired of it already.

i hear it all the time:
‘how much do you bench? …
what is your IQ? …
what is your annual salary? …
how many celebrities have you known in your lifetime? …
how many books have you published? …
are you really “bi”, or a half-closeted faggot? …
how big is your dick? …’

enough bullshit already!
let’s wrestle it down …
winner takes it all.

simply put:
you lose … you get fucked.

– Adam Donaldson Powell, 2014.