before I begin

Life is too short to live behind lies

Friday, 17 December 2010

on being an astronaut..the beauty of visual

when  i paint..when i am really PAINTING, I am unaware of anything except the liquid movement of the coloured substance, the changing tensions between my head and my hand and infinite numbers of 'sparks' and stories and associations and relationships. Experiences which can only exist and make sense in the language of paint and the language of the visual. It is a 'parallel' world with its own rules. It cannot be trully interpreted and should not be. It is what makes visual art just that. An action without limits and with unlimited potential.

For this reason I become very sad when I see some art being made and exhibited as the product of 'research'. Art which is essentially an illustration used to clarify some ( usually language based) thesis. Often such output itself becomes the subject of 'critical writing'. It has no spirit, no direct relationship to the visual experience . Of course it has every right to exist, every right to be seen as a valid product of  human endevour but for me there is another issue. An issue which is sometimes avoided by critics , curators and even educationalists. This issue is often ignored and dismissed . Those who dare to air it are are belittled and patronised. Not because their views are unworthy but because it is more convenient.

So what is this 'big issue' whose name we dare not speak? At the risk of burning in hell fires of  the art
(under)world, I will say it.........
'BEAUTY'..........................there it is said!
I would not be surprised if some art institutions have on their list of desired criteria 'Must not be beautiful'.

Now I know we can discuss the definition of the word beauty and I know it  could be argued that the experience of 'conceptual' or research based art can be 'beautiful' . My concern however is for what we term VISUAL ART. I am concerned that we are losing  the inherent magic contained in the act of creating a physical...visual object through a human action which is driven by a desire beyond the 'intellectual'.

Our society is consumed by the  demands of  'documentation', 'evidence' and 'appraisal'. As one who works in education I know this dominates our students. It is perpetuated in art schools and the result is galleries filled with work which still looks like a unresolved piece of purely academic research. The people who make this work are told by someone that they are visual artists. They are not...they are visual researchers. It is an admirable and vital role they play. It is an essential contribution but it is not the product of an artist. No more than studying astronomy makes you an astronaut.

I will venture to say that  of all the thousands of arts graduates, there must only be a small few who are ( and always were) truly visual artists. I will also venture to say that ironically, the talent of such people is often overlooked precisely because they are VISUAL artists and  not the creators of documentary evidence  preferred by some curators.

There are many individuals and institutions who have lost the ability to read or be moved by the spirit of a visual medium and the acknowledgement of beauty is seen as a betrayal of contemporary 'coolness'.
Contemporary technology does not automatically make contemporary art.

Visual art is a magic and magical activity. It is spiritual. Our arts structures are designed to exist in the comfort zone of academic and politically correct agendas. We must begin to encourage ''feel' and 'experience' and sense. We must have a truly broad church...truly open minded...truly challenging. If we say we are 'cutting edge', forward thinking and risk taking then lets have the courage to embrace the visual....maybe even.. BEAUTY?

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more and probably couldn't have expressed it better myself. Each of us who is blessed with visial art talent carries within us an idiosyncratic language of shapes, symbols, mark making and colors which are uniquely ours. Being brave enough to defy the conventional and simply do "our own thing", critics be damned, might seem to some an act of bravery while to me it is merely being true to myself. I suspect you feel the same.