Monday, October 22, 2007

Art Blah Blah Blah

Back in the day when I was in grad school, there was a definite routine. I would spend tons of hours in the studio; make bunches of work, and then pound on the wall to alert Gilda (my best friend) who was working in her studio next door. This was a signal to her it was time for a break. Sometimes we would go to lunch downstairs at Alvin’s Deli and talk art. Sometimes, we would get together to vent or decide what to say about the art we made. We needed a dialog. In grad school, you are constantly asked to explain and defend what you do. Therefore, this became part of our daily routine. We would prepare the “script”.
If you have been following this blog, you know I have been watching artist videos like an addict craving a drug. I can’t get enough. I love seeing other artists working and showing where they work. What I DON’T like is hearing their artist “blah blah blah”. That is so boring and fake to me. I know it is a necessary evil. Professors, gallery patrons, and interviewers expect some kind of
deep, dark, mysterious art mantra from artists.
It reminds me of the sales pitch you are subjected to when you go buy a car. You can’t just look at the car and want it. You have to hear the spiel. Well just like I turn off the sound on salesmen, I tend to turn off the sound of pretentious artists. Some of the things they say about their art are nonsensical, trite, and meaningless. For example, here are a few quotes I jotted down while watching these videos:
“My work is moving.”
“You see movement.”
“You see expression.”
“There is tension, but ahhh, then like, you see movement.”
“It takes you on a journey.”
“I have been working on works with color, composition, textures, patterns, layering on top of layering on colors on top of colors, using different kinds of paint, different kinds of drying techniques, some of them are vertical, horizontal, some are done flat. Some are successful. Some are failures. Some are highly acclaimed. Some others people just look at. They are representational but they are not.”
I swear I copied this dialogue verbatim. This is scary.
One smart series of art speak was when I heard an artist apologizing because he doesn’t build his own canvas. He went on to say, he didn’t see why this was necessary since he can buy excellent canvases for a reasonable price and by doing that, he saves time. Thus, he is able to paint more. Now this is the kind of “art talk” I like. It makes sense!!! In fact, I don’t mind artists talking sense, giving valuable advice, or saying things to which we can relate. This guy was being honest and genuine. It is the mysterious art yadda yadda yadda that is irritating and phoney.
One time I nearly had eggs thrown at me because I was at the opening of a show and unbeknownst to me, the exhibition coordinator wanted each artist to explain their work in the show. One by one the artists got up and started spewing verbal B.S. My heart raced with each speaker. I knew I would be called on soon. When it was my turn, I got up and said “My work speaks for itself.” Then I sat down. I felt like I was going to be stoned at that moment. I am sure some of the other artists really wanted to hurt me when I did that. How DARE she! Well I did it and to this day I stand by my decision to just
(At least this is true when it comes to explaining my work.)

Digital / Photoshop
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Natalya said...

thank you, i must agree, i cannot stand all the blah blah

Melody said...

So true. I think buyers want to hear all that blah blah....they seem to feel it validates their purchase for some bizare reason.
I would rather them look at the work and buy it because it resonates with them for their own reasons.

Sheree Rensel said...

Nat and Mel,
In a perfect world, we could set our art out and people would SEE. Unfortunately, many people don't want to take the time or they just don't understand visual communication. This is very sad. I had a neighbor who knew me well. She would come over and look at my art. She would repeatedly tell me "I don't get it!". I could feel my blood pressure going up. Mind you, this confession is coming from a person who has a grey, modeling paste picture of a pelican adorning her Florida apartment. Truly, I didn't know where to start to try to explain that my art is just what it is. It would be for the viewer to decide what it means or how it touches you. I feared she wouldn't understand that either. Therefore, for all these years I just let it go. She has her ugly pelican picture as her "art collection". I have my dignity.