Saturday, December 13, 2014

Okay, Let's Smear Paint

This past week I made the above paper collage to submit to the current downtown gallery show, which is title, Remixed.   It's made from recycled materials keeping with the remixed theme.  Most of the paper is from junk mail, envelopes, and a few scraps I found from debris surrounding an old billboard.  The heart in the middle is from a piece of artwork that my niece's girls made some time back for my mom, so I included that, and it's mounted on a used cardboard album cover sleeve.  So I think at least, to my satisfaction, I  kept within the theme.  I like that it's brightly colored, balanced, and has a certain way that leads the eye around the work.  That said though, I can be critical of my own work, and feel a bit bashful or sheepish when saying I'm an artist, though I understand it's just a word to convey someone that puts together artwork.

I enjoy the world of art most of the time, more so than the actually making of art.  So I'm perhaps more of an art appreciator, although I enjoy trying my hand at it as well and being a little creative.  That said, however, I can be critical of it as well, perhaps not quite as critical of modern or contemporary art as Joe the Plumber or Joe Bob Sixpack, but still critical.  I read one critical person say that most modern art should be destroyed, and we should start all over again.  I have to admit, I feel that way at times.  Ever since the Abstract Expressionist movement that occurred in NYC with the action painters and the slap, spill, dash, and dab art that came out of that movement, anyone else wanting to mimic that style, can and does.  For me there's an over abundance of it, and I say that with some restraint, as I like a lot of that style of art.  I don't like all of it, and I think it's overdone, but yeah, I like some of it--quite a bit of it really.  I love modern art for the most part.

But having said all that, I'm still mystified by art, what makes it into galleries, what becomes hot art or artist, so is it any wonder that it's even more puzzling to the average person?  Probably not.  Though at the same time I cringe a little when I overhear someone in a show make a remark like, "Hell my pet monkey could paint that."  I guess consider the source, but at the same time I guess I can understand it.

There is a documentary called, My Kid Could Paint That, which is about a young girl who does some interesting abstracts similar to other artist like, Picasso or Jackson Pollock, and so forth.  If the movie is to be believed, and not a fake artifact or movie, it does tend to raise many questions:  Despite the fact that the artwork is made by a very young girl, without knowing anything about art history or even why she is creating the artwork or its intent-- is it any less viable than any other artwork?  Probably not, at least in my opinion.  But that's just another one of those mysteries that I find hard to wrap my head around when exploring the world of art.

There was another art documentary called Cutie and The Boxer, that came out not too long ago.  It's interesting and was about a NYC couple that were both artist, who are somewhat famous artist. It's certainly worth a look if you enjoy that sort of thing.  One of the issues the film raises is although you might be famous or noted within the art world, but you also might be living hand to mouth ie. starving artist. One of the type paintings that the male counterpart of the couple did was put on boxing gloves, dab them into paint buckets, and punch canvases in sort of a splattered manner, and then he'd title them something sort of ambiguous, etc.  I actually enjoyed watching him make his art, and I probably agree with his philosophy--art doesn't have to be complex to be art, but at the same time, I felt conflicting issues.  I feel at times, that all one really needs to do to be taken seriously as an artist is to do something on a grand scale.  In other words put it out there on a large canvas, then you are somewhat legitimized as a "real" artist.  Some might scoff at that assertion, but yeah, I do feel that way at times.  You certainly would be taken as a "real" artist quicker that way over say, painting on little 6 by 8 inch canvases, at least unless you are very very good at painting those small canvases, and some are.  So anyway, it's a head scratcher...

I ran into a couple more video on Youtube that I found pretentious so I won't post them here (and it would take too long to find them again), but both were more or less how these two artist created their art. One was a guy that happened to also be a musician.  He turned on some loud music and had a group of onlookers around him, and he first drew a human cartoon-y face on a canvas, and then a doggie, and some other stick figure, which was okay in a primitive, childlike manner, but then he goes on, and breaks out a mop bucket, and swabs the mop in it and covers up his previous figures, and steps back to look at it and goes back to attack the painting again flailing paint around as if possessed by the devil.  I saw a similar video posted by a woman, that again, had some loud techno music, and she starts shaking her rump, getting into the groove, and paints, and swabs, and comes back over and paints over what she did, and stands back, makes a quick judgement, and then paints over that in quick smearing fashion.  I don't know, it all seemed pretty pretentious to me.  I just felt, I hope neither of you are trying to live off this stuff as it's going to be a hungry future for you.  

I guess there's no brilliant take away here, just me thinking out loud mostly.  I'll end with a pretty neat video I watched on Youtube the other night taken at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  I like how the guy presenting the video shoots and talks a bit about the paintings, evidently knowing a bit about art, the creators, and art history.  I wonder if he just shot these with a hand held phone, which seems he may have, but most museums won't allow cameras, so that's a bit odd.  At any rate, I did like most of the paintings in the show, except for the ones that looked like they were stick figures drawn by a six year old.  I just found them too pretentious.  If the artist that made those is making a living off that, I need to go buy and put some large canvases together and move to NYC.


At 2:39 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Ug probably asked that as he watched Quagg paint a bison on the cave wall. The answer is hard to articulate, probably more so for Quagg than for us. Yet anthropologists mark the beginning of modern human consciousness not from tools or even anatomy but from the first appearance of art sometime between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. It's related somehow to abstract thought. While the old “for art’s sake” may seem just a way of throwing up one’s hands and evading the question, it might be the best we can do. Ars gratia artis

At 3:22 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

I didn't know that about anthropologist. But I knew it came from the right/subconscious side of the brain. I think I dwell more on that side.

10CC had a song title Art for Arts Sake. The meaning is as ambiguous as a lot of abstract art, but maybe that's what they were driving at.

At 7:23 AM, Blogger SFF said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post and I thank you for sharing your art work with us.

It's such a different kind of creative outlet to writing isn't it?

Your theme was well-executed. I really liked your thinking on it.

I enjoy all kinds of art myself and modern art, while sometimes questionable, is often interesting.

It's funny how so many artists have a certain "look" to be hip and cool. I love it when someone comes along and doesn't look the part at all. I love that art can come from a variety of sources and different types of people.

You've really peaked my interest with MY KID COULD PAINT THAT. I have to watch that. It really underscores the point that, as you say, art can start from anyone. It's really in the eye of the beholder ultimately.

Anyway interesting and the pretentious ones are annoying as if to suggest they know what an artist is and know much more than you. But I am open to seeing their creations too.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

SFF, yes, visual art is a different type thing than writing, and you switch your thinking gears for it, whereas with writing, you are putting this alphabet of abstract characters together to form phrases and sentences, where some other person, say from Russia or Japan, might use another set of abstract characters to write and convey the thoughts inside their head. And at the same time, I feel, there's some similarities as well, both take some thought, and so forth.

Like when I write poetry some times, I use words to paint a picture in your mind, and other literature might do that as well. Movies and other visual arts might use poetic visuals, atmosphere, or lighting, framing, blank space, abstraction (cinematography), and nonlinear storytelling. Music can be that way as well, sculpture too, etc.

I think what is pretentious is just as subjective as what is appealing. After a while I think the artist has to perhaps just put it out there and let the work be judged on its own merit. A lot of writers say that's the way they feel as well--Stephen King says he mostly writes for himself, and if someone else enjoys it, it's a win win. And maybe that might be the missing link on what makes one popular or famous--whatever it is you are doing strikes a chord with a larger audience and the masses enjoy what you're doing as well.

It's sometimes hard to say why something or someone has become so popular as for every band like the Beatles, or artist like Warhol, there are hundreds more that don't quite make the cut. But I think, at least for me, I just get some enjoyment out of being creative, and if someone else can enjoy it too, like King says, it's a double win. :)


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