Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My art epiphany

My art club and I had an outing to a gallery and studio today. The gallery was interesting



I saw a new angle on ceramics, and how a scientist becomes an artist, and I saw some painting that I didn't get at first.
Luise Fong was Artist in Residence at McCahon House recently, and painted a series of acrylic on board works inspired by her stay there. To my eye they were nice enough, muted colours, lots of oval and circle shapes, blobby bits made from some sort of wax and not a lot else. THEN I went to McCahon house and saw the kauri trees that inspired her and it finally MADE SENSE! I had an "oh I get it" moment, and it was wonderful.

We also spent time at McCahon house, learning about Colin McCahon - a very famous and important NZ artist, I am sorry to say I had not heard of before (I am a new tourist into the art world). The manager who showed us around was very knowledgeable but also obviously very passionate about McCahon's work and art in general. We talked about "modern" art and I admitted I am a bit of a "yes, but is it ART?" kind of person when faced with people like Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin. The manager (Cynthia Smith, I think), told me something that really struck a chord with me.

McCahon was severely criticised for some of his work, called childish, ugly, useless, and this criticism drive him to alcoholim and death. Yet he is now considered a seminal NZ artist and his work is known around the world. Cynthia said to me that if a new artist presents something challenging, or something you don't understand or don't like, don't attack it. Give it the respect the artist deserves for simply pushing the boundaries and taking a risk. Art is no longer about producing something pretty that you can hang above your couch, it is supposed to inspire you, intrigue you and maybe even disgust you.

Coupled with the "oh I get it" moment I had earlier, I find I have a new found interest in art and the inspiration behind work that I might otherwise dismiss as "something anyone could have made".

Cynthia told me "enjoy your art, and take some risks."

I'm off to create...

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