body of work gives a perspective into the development of an artists mind, skill and ability to bring both together to create art. it gives an insight into the direction the artist is moving towards.
as an artist grows, a few things stay - we call them the essential signature.
first few works of any artist are not indicative of any direction. this is when the artist struggles to listen to himself to understand what is the kind of work would he want to do. It's the time when he is making choices, and an artist who makes art because he wants to make art, chooses the direction which is intuitively in sync with his self. (many artists make it simple : they look at the market, and make stuff that sells). Look at the first few works (this 'few' sometimes goes on for ten years - longer if the mediocre work starts to sell) of Gaitonde, Rothko, Monet, Gogh - I am talking about these people because they found their art - you will see a wide exploration of methods, media, subjects, feel, textures - many a times market / influencer oriented. And then there is a point when it all ends. They find their work.
From that point on the width ends and they dive deep. If you look back at their 'childhood' work - you see threads of their mature work. Artist talks so much through their work - to a sensitive observer, it's a book of their life, choices and contemplation.
Look at Gogh's work of ten years : once he finds his light-lines, his light, he masters them, his work is just a dance of these. He is suddenly free from his quest for the subject of his next work. Every work of his is a new adventure in the land of light-lines. He sees them, he holds them, he places them for us to see. No colour is a no, no subject is beyond. Works are full of light, full of energy, force. They talk, and reflect, they stay in the viewers mind, they bleed in the viewers mind. Such works, are inside out, saying nothing, hearing nothing.
These works are not following any language of beauty, in fact these works have their own language of beauty, independent of whatever exists. These are just for themselves, full of themselves. Same for Gaitonde, Rothko.
Everyone has his own outlook on life, and so does an artist. An artist is a thinker, with a sensitive perception - who is able to see and sense the same things everyone does in his own light, and is able to express his seeing filtered by his being- with utmost honesty. (This is when people aren't playing the market.)
Look at Louis Kahn's architectural work, ignore the commentary.
See the shapes, see the play of light and wind, you will hear his philosophy about space, about construction, about integrity, about oneness. Walk through his work - IIM A, Jotiyo Shanshad, Exeter Library, Salk institute. You will hear him sing. When you see what he has made, and live in it, you will know what he wanted you to feel. Such is the nature of timeless work. It always, and only gets created by a creator who finds it inside him.
his life experience do impact him, they do shape him - however, it is his perception of his life experiences that does it - and nobody but the artist knows how he felt. He gives you a cue : his work. it tells you how he felt.
The work is a constructive spin on everything he hates, and everything he loves.
As he gets clearer about himself, so does his work. And this happens through focus on making work, thinking about work, understanding the source, distilling it. Look at Nasreen's work. To go in such a depth of the work will make you a loner, aloof, intolerable - because when you are so deep in something that gives you divine peace : everything else you do is a sheer waste of life.