The pictures an artist produces not only act as a mirror for the spectator but they also act as a mirror for the artist himself.
Where did the picture the artist produced come from? As I see it there are 3 possibilities:
The artist had a particular idea he wishes to express. When he ponders this idea various images arise in his imagination. Out of all these images the artist selects the one he feels most fits his intended meaning.
An image just pops into the artist’s head and he thinks “That looks cool! I’m going to paint that!”
The artist starts off with no idea or image. He just starts “doodling”. As he “doodles” ideas and concepts occur to him that directs his drawing.
In case one the questions to ask are “Why does the artist wish to convey that idea?” and out of all the images that occurred to him “Why did he select that one?”
In case two the questions to ask are “Why did that image pop up in the artists head?” and “What interpretation does the artist give this image?”
In case three the questions to ask are “Why did that particular idea occur to the artist when he looked at that shape?” and “Why did the artist’s drawing take the direction it took?”
These are all questions the artist and spectator can ponder themselves. When the spectator ponders these questions he places himself in the place of the artist.
Isn’t this evident in the common question “What do you think the artist meant by this piece?”
The spectator by placing himself into the place of the artist when he asks these types of questions is really asking questions of himself. His sub-conscious and hidden self manifest as the non-present artist.
Really the intended meaning of the piece doesn’t matter. The piece takes on a life of its own in the minds of the spectators. The artist as time changes becomes other than what he was when he produced the piece; inevitably, through the progress of time the artist becomes the spectator of his own production.