Wednesday, May 09, 2012

yeah, but what does it mean?

It's one of those questions I don't care to answer as an artist. I know it's asked ~ saw the question in action on Work of Art last season. The only part of the show I can't stomach is the critique. Barely tolerated them through college. Because on the heels of What does it mean? is Why did you do that? Well, in a perfectly narcissistic nutshell: I felt like it. For the critic, that's not a good enough answer. So an artist on the spot might fumble for an answer much like the vague explanation of what one sees in a Rorschach test. Yes. It's a butterfly eating a monkey; that's what I see. The desperate answer is your one-way ticket to the Funny Farm.

No one questions the famous (well-funded) artist. The critic "sees" the deep expression in that one color or one line or butterfly eating the monkey, understanding, in one glance, the totality of the piece. All perfectly ducky and acceptable. In fact, the piece might fetch a pretty price. So why, why, are burgeoning artists required to explain themselves? Are college critiques meant to be the Artist's Boot Camp in preparation for the Art World? If you can survive what the professor has to say then you might do okay out there. Here is your full metal jacket. The sensitive creative person either develops a tough outer crust or retreats to safer grounds creatively (in the CPA class next door). A certain purity is lost. The desire to create becomes stifled in an effort to please the critic.

Most times, I do something for the simple joy of it. Wavy black lines? Cool! I'm there! Oodles of colored spirals? Sure! What the hell! Sometimes I see a vision and paint it. More often though, I much prefer to see how things evolve. And I have very little patience or interest in explaining the evolution of that work. See it. Experience it. Keep the questions to yourself. And whatever you do, don't tell me It's nice. There are places for that kind of folk. They're usually beige.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Often, I leave a gallery thinking, "WTF?"

Big canvas, splash of color, single line? Narcissistic bullshit, not a statement about the human condition. If there's social commentary hiding in there, it's in the fact that someone is paying big bucks for pretending to be emotionally moved.

Give me something I can look into and get lost in.