Artists are motivated to create.
We create things to make space available in our mind to create more things.
It’s a cycle of bringing the intangible (mind) into the tangible (physical) that plays out for the entire life of an Artist to investigate an internal discourse(s) within a belief system(s)
I honestly feel this to be true.
Some art is breathtaking, inducing tears. Though to be honest, a lot is weightless. I don’t mean as in, ‘You call that Art? My 5 year old could do better than that.’ I mean hollow, flailing around the periphery of an idea, void of a pinnacle and lacking confidence.
This brings to mind something I witnessed as a student in a sculpture unit I once took. We were instructed at the end of one lesson to choose a word, create a piece animating our word of choice, then bring it in for discussion the following week. My word was ‘distance’ and my piece was shit. From memory I got no air time!
Another student chose ‘chaos’ and came to class with a milk crate filled with found objects. To any organised, colour co-ordinating, compartmentalising kind of person, yes that crate was chaos. What the lecturer did next was pick up the milk crate and with some force sent the contents of the milk crate and the milk crate crashing across the concrete studio floor. Those 3 seconds were ‘chaos’. The crate with found objects alone was a level of chaos sure, but those elements in momentum, creating sound in a closed environment was another level of chaos, closer to the true nature of the word. Success.
In Art, the closer the Artist can get to the true nature of his or her inquiry, by default, the more successful their work will be. This sounds so very simple and it is, but so many artists get it wrong, or close but no cigar . Anyone can exhibit if they have the money to pay a gallery, that doesn’t mean the work should make an exhibition. So the general public have a very misinformed opinion of the state of Modern Art; particularly in Western Australia. My opinion only.
This brings me to a recent trip to Adelaide and my encounter with ‘We are all flesh’ by Berlinde De Bruykere in the Art Gallery of South Australia.
I have never been dumbfounded by Art. Never. This piece stopped me. I stared at it. The enormity. The cleanliness of death. Two headless horses stitched together hanging by hooves from the ceiling. Tears rolled down my face. ‘We are all flesh’ is completely grand, powerful, compelling and charged; and that conceptual charge is so very concentrated in the sculpture that shortly after being in its’ presence the only response I had was to cry. There’s me in the image circling the sculpture for the 10th time!
Obviously there are many ways an Artist can express concepts across disciplines.
My advice to an Artist with a desire for a long standing career would be to cultivate within him or herself an editing eye to sharpen their practice, and tighten their concepts. Become skilled, eloquent and get rid of the shit; honestly. Understand why you are creating weightless work and stop creating it by starting to change elements of your practice to get closer to the essence of your inquiry. Simple but not so simple; I get it, but trust it to be fact then National Galleries will start collecting your work.