Each artwork must find its own balance between the familiar and the unexpected, between who we are and what we aspire to be. There is no formula for this balance – indeed, the balance can and does vary from work to work within the same artist’s oeuvre.
I was reminded of that maxim when a friend recently complained to me of a new piece that he thought was too “European-sounding.”
The only way, I believe, a piece can be too “anything-sounding” is if that “anything” does not exist in the universe or in the subconscious.
Europe is most definitely in the universe, and its impact on the imaginations of many of the world’s artists, for good and for bad, is undeniable. Repressing that influence is a choice that many artworks may make with impunity, but an outright rejection of the truth of that influence for any artist who has felt it, either through the soles of the feet or the synapses of the mind, is unseemly, unnecessary, and just plain counterproductive.