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Art is Art - Get Over It!

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

'Only someone that doesn't understand art tells an artist their art somehow failed'

Kevin Smith

I have, it would seem, an occasional predilection for not getting art. Well, not getting all art. I've gotten past the point of saying the art I don't like is 'crap', as this is just a lazy un-objective comment about something that either doesn't chime or resonate with my own sensibilities. I do however still struggle to see purpose with some art that I am presented with. My journey into this immense landscape has started, and I now find myself having to actively engage with work that I find at best amateur, and at worst downright awful, whilst all around it feels that my contemporaries are fawning over these old and new darlings of the subject.

Much of my course is analysing artists and their work and then incorporating some of these aspects into the projects and assignments I am presented with. It has come as quite a surprise in recent years how my tastes have changed, and I wonder, if over time, I will find myself engaging in a more positive way with my current struggles. Or, is it more likely that some art will never break through my creative firewall, and is this a bad thing? Art college and a photography degree may open me up more to complex artistic values, but should I beat myself up if I gloss over work that is lauded, and engage with the art that is not and I enjoy, or is this being lazy? I'm often politely advised it's the latter.

I remember first hearing the term 'What is Art?' in my teens, and I have a feeling this created an internal dialogue that not all art was relevant and more importantly, not all art is art. Certainly in the 80's there was a feeling towards modern art that was questioning its value. All these years later I can't help feel I still hold on to an element of this ill informed view. Now I find myself battling with an inner voice when presented with work I find challenging. Trying to make sense of what at first seems a lazily created abstract experiment, but later turns out to be a piece that likely from concept to creation took months/maybe years, fills me with a sense of hopelessness. Hopelessness because if this is the standard, then how can I even break into an arena that makes no sense? Of course, this is a ridiculous conclusion.

The answer, as with all things in life that are a struggle, is to get wise. Inform oneself. Read books, watch documentaries, but above, and certainly pertaining to art, go see live exhibitions. Nothing exemplifies the form on the senses than seeing art in the wild. Pictures, even in well printed books, will never pique one's imagination as much as breathing in the majesty of a full size painting in a gallery or studio. The still fresh smell of paint or photography solutions further amplifies the senses and draws one into the journey the artist travelled to reach this final piece.

I guess what I am saying is I am learning, but I need to remind myself that art is art because creators and artists have for centuries struggled to produce magnificent works. Each piece stands testament to every breath they took to realise and complete their work; and likely few people noticed whilst they were still alive. Art changes people, art influences and art starts debate amongst everyone across society. Art is the wrong word. Swap art for abstract/communication and suddenly those pieces that seemed difficult to engage with have purpose. No arrogance, no ego, just an individuals realisation for the viewer to make sense of.

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Thank you all for your kind wishes and comments to my last blog post. My current college assignment has somewhat taken precedent of late, but shall endeavour to post more regularly.


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