New year is of course the time to make resolutions for the attainment of higher wisdom, peak physical health and all round better personhood. As today is the 5th, it's a given that most people will have given up giving up whatever they were giving up and given themselves over to those bad old habits which are so hard to shake off. However I, for one, am made of sterner stuff and I am really going to make an efort to write a more frequent blog about art and the state of the world in general. In the spirit of this new found drive I am therefore happy to post this older piece from last year
Other people's work
Published on: 5 Aug 2014 @ 16:38
I freely confess the I had never heard of JD Fergusson before I saw the beautiful exhibition of his work at the Pallant Gallery the otherday. He was one of the Scottish Colourists, of whom I had vaguely heard but had rather assumed that they would generate unending variations of Highland scenes and those red cows that scottish painters seem to like. I was wrong though, His work passed through three distinct phases from bravura Edwardian portraiture, a little like John Singer Sergeant, thence to wonderfully colourful Fauvist works and on to stylised Art Deco-ish works. I was absolutely bowled over by the colour and quality of his work. So much joy and life in his pictures it was almost as he couldn't get the paint onto the canvas fast enough. This is painting at its most painterly. I left the show with a grin plastered across my face and powerful urge to return as soon as possible to soak up some more of that wonderful sunny world that he made.
This got me thinking about the way that I approach other artist's work in general and the distinctions to be made between the way I look at: the work of friends, the work of other painters and work by more famous artists
When I look at my friend's pictures it I am trying to see the person I know in the work that I am looking at and trying to see if there is any correlation between the work and the person, and if the images are typical of the them and represent them, or whether the pictures are a mask to show to the world. I never compare or judge my work against these.
Other artist's work in commercial galleries depends on the type of gallery and the sort of work I am looking at. Seeing the work of David Eustace or Michel Sowa on a wall would me with a sort of simultaneous longing and muffled envy (it's just not fair to be that talented). With other artists, I suppose my reaction can be broken down into a few main categories:
"Wow! I love that"
"I wish I could do that (yes but somebody else has done it)"
"Damn! Why didn't I think of that?"
Thankfully the stage of "I could do that!" has past now that I'm actually painting and showing my work but it does provide a good kick up the backside if I haven't been working for a while.
If I don't like the art on display I will still look at it and try and work out what it is that displeases me and often that process will cause me reassess what I'm looking at and come to a more positive conclusion
Much of the work in mass produced High street chain galleries - shops really. They're not galleries - is so cynical and trite (think of the way Rolf Harris was whipped off the walls of these stores because he would harm the profits) and is really just for people who don't like art but have the money to spend and who need something to hide their hideous wallpaper. This sort of art relies either on a name, ideally somebody famous from the telly, or a list of people like famous golfers or actors who own the originals of this stuff and appear to endorse it. It's not that the work presented is always so bad , it's just the that the prices charged are huge for what basically amounts to a giclée or inkjet print with a signature nad a number or spurious endorsement. It's more about fame and celebrity than quality.
Looking at the art of great artists ancient and modern is a very different matter and i think I'll cover that in a different blog