Friday, January 23, 2009

How Do You Connect To Art?

I recently read an article by Tom Ludwig entitled "The importance of flatness and self-containment in the visual arts". Quite a long essay, but he addressed some very important points about the relationship between the artist and viewer, the role of the critic, new expectations that have been placed upon the artist, what we should expect from the visual arts and how these factors influence how we connect to art. I must quote Tom Ludwig's opening sentence, because it sums up what I feel has been lost in contemporary times. He states, "In the best art, the image triumphs over the narrative; the visual triumphs over the cerebral." As artists, (and I'm not speaking soley about visual artists, because I imagine musicians face the same expectations as well), it seems that the image (or the piece of music) is no longer enough- it seems like connecting to a work of art purely on an emotional level no longer suffices. As a visual artist, I am expected to write an "artist's statement"-an explanation of what influences my work, what I am exploring through my work, why I paint the way I paint, what that says about my work....(you get the picture). I'm fine with that-it's kind of an introduction to me and to my work. But I think that's where the "narrative" should stop. Because now, a great deal of importance is placed on an explanation of each individual painting. The end product isn't permitted to speak for itself, now we need to explain all the reasons we had for creating the piece in the first place and what we are trying to say, why we chose red paint over blue paint, etc. all to aid the viewer in connecting to the work itself. WHAT? In this case, words just get in the way. To be honest, sometimes I'm not trying to say anything, and I don't have a particular reason for painting a certain piece other than I just felt like it. Of course, something obviously inspired me to paint a particular piece, but as the person looking at the painting do you really need a written explanation about all that in order to fully appreciate it? I don't think the viewer is being given much credit here. Aside from the fact that I painted the piece, leave me out of it. Just look at the painting and let it say to you whatever it wants to say. Connect to it on whatever level your emotions guide you to. Isn't that the true role of art? There's so much that can be debated about this topic, I may have to continue in another post, but in the mean time-what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Heather,
    Thanks for your insightful piece about connecting to art. It seems artists of all walks, ie musicians, painters, writers, actors etc., connect to other genres of art besides their own forte. It is true how our own interpetation will make the art of choice come alive to us.

    Even in my chosen love, writing, the "gray" areas are what connect to the receiver of the piece.

    Thanks for the inviting nature of the Cafe!