Starcat 1 by my favourite artist

Monday, 31 December 2012

When Art Comes to Town

What is the difference between art and draughtsmanship? Easy. The feeling that you get when confronted by an image. Draughtsmanship impresses by its efficacy. Art calls to us by its essence.

How many times have we been to an exhibition of amateur - or professional - artists and have been left cold? I do not want to get enmired in the merits or otherwise of abstract or piles-of-bricks "art" where what the aritst's intention is more important than the actual sheep in formaldehyde / unmade bed that we see before us.

Art, of whatever type, exudes humanity, wit, emotion. It calls to our inner being.

Imagine, then, my immense delight when one of my favourite artists (see Starcat 1) gave me four works - four self-portraits - for Christmas. I have decided to share them with you, even though my photography is not exactly the best.

I hope you enjoy them and that they serve as a gateway to the happiness of your own New Year.

The journey starts

Almost there
Home again



  1. Art is a huge and bewildering subject, especially in the modern age when there are so many movements and isms jostling for attention and when even the definition of "art" has gone into free-fall. Anyone wishing to be an art expert has to engage in a long and exacting apprenticeship. Such a course of preparation is beyond most of us - it is certainly beyond me - and in that case, our reaction to art becomes that old stand-by "I know what I like when I see it."

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, in my opinion. Art has become too intellectualized and the upper echelons are occupied in many cases by artists whom I regard as nothing less than con(wo)men whose fame derives from an overly cosy relationships between them and art critics and art galleries. Ordinary people, in Britain at least, are far too diffident and don't dare to criticize art. They should. If they did, then perhaps the above mentioned con(wo)men would stop receiving ridiculous rave reviews (not to mention gongs in the New Year Honours List) and would start to be assessed more honestly. In the meantime, we are living in the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, waiting for the little boy who dares to say that the emperor is naked.

    The other face of the coin is that those artists who do not get taken up by the critics and the galleries are condemned to remain obscure, no matter how good they may be. That is why it is good for all of us to criticize and to praise works of art honestly and without fear of being contradicted by so-called experts.

  2. I also think deeper (intellectual/technical) understanding can sometimes lead to a greater and/or different form appreciation (e.g., more emotional, visceral) of a work of art, a song...

  3. Hi Pink Panther. I agree, yet... we can also fall into the trap that Academic art is the only true art. Luckily, the late 19th- and early 20th-century artists began to lead us away from the rigidity of conventional art. The problem, however of relaxing constraints is that things turn into a free-for-all where any rubbish can be fobbed off as true art.
    I was once fortunate enough to do some work for several of Spain's most important art galleries. This led me to a greater understanding of art through the ages. I am no great lover of modern art, but there is a lot of good stuff out there, both abstract and figurative.
    Silver Tiger was right when he mentioned the Emperor's New Clothes (ENC). I perhaps, would go further: although a lot of what is turned out today and labelled "art" is indeed self-serving pretentious crap, we must not forget that crap art has been around for centuries. For example, I wouldn't give house-, er shed-, room to Murillo and his saints, Virgins, monks, nuns and Baby Jesuses however sweetly they are coloured. To me, he never rises above being a good colourist who wasted his talent on such boring subjects.
    Who can deny, however, the art of Picasso, Velázquez, Turner, Van Goch etc. ? Sometimes we need to be helped to understand Art, sometimes we are browbeaten into believing that crap is Art on the ENC principle. However, other times Art just jumps out at us at the first glance.
    In the final analysis, true art moves us; it reverberates with the artist's creative emotions. It communicates with us on (as you say) an emotional and visceral level. This leads us to an interesting question: does this mean that the pieces created by people whose only motivation seems to be self-enrichment or self-aggrandisement is art, if we recognise the greed that lies behind its creation?

  4. Interesting question but I am not sure that we can always tell "authentic" or "true" art from art that is merely a means of self-promotion or a sign of narcissism. It would be wonderful if we could though. Interestingly, humans are well equipped to distinguish whether a person is genuine - mostly through attention to body language, pitch (not so much actual content). So, perhaps one way to approach the issue of authenticity in art might be to have artists present and talk about their work. Then we'd know if someone's full of it or, alternatively, appears to have something genuine to offer. There's this new book out that strikes me as related for some reason: "To Sell Is Human" by Dan Pink.