Thursday, 17 March 2011

A portal to understanding.

 I love art.  I almost drink it through my eyes and skin as if by osmosis, straight to the soul.  Like beauty and nature, art is pleasure without satiation.  Replenishing like pure, cool spring water.
Old opened oak. Photo. 2010. Markeaton park. Derby.
 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time, but I think art should strive to connect to the masses.  Here is an interesting link I found at Gillian Holding's Twitter: How gallery visitors view work.
 I cannot stand elitism.  The false mystery created by high-art priests, circling in their cliques and separating new clothes for emperors only.  What is this hierarchy that makes one human animal more capable than another, to experience a work of art.  The term "dumbing down" baffles me.  I value the comprehension of clear expression.  Specialisation and intellectualism are commendable pursuits, but if you really understand, exclusionary terminology can be put aside.  Isn't that the wonder of a picture, that it can give you it's thousand words in one physical blast of interaction.  A resonating mirror reflecting a journey.

Mona Lisa. Leonardo Da Vinci. 1503 - 1506.
  Art that speaks to you as you walk past it, with the power to stop you in your tracks is my ideal.  If I have to read a label in order to appreciate a piece, it still has it's place in the gallery, as a vehicle for depicting theories, but ultimately I look for an emotional response. Art can prompt a kind of nostalgia, fused with a primeval sense of homecoming that we cannot quite grasp before it fades. Leaving only a distant sense of sadness.
 What is it about the Mona Lisa's smile that has intrigued for centuries.  What is the answer to her enigmatic puzzle.  This is the kernel in art I am searching for, the key to the doorway back to the source of inspiration.  A portal through to the mysterious state the artist once inhabited.  It is a rousing of something deeper.  A clue of what it is that makes us more than mere functioning automatons.

Inside the oak. Photo. 2010.
 An artist sends their energy into a creation, it's internal structure and outer form designed by thought and desire.  When finished it is a separate, contained expression of human life released into the world. Captured evidence of why we are here and what we are about.  This is were reproductions in books or online can be a massive disservice.

  I wander through exhibitions like a criminal archaeologist, searching for meaning in the layers of paint, still infused with a residue of creation.  Google art project is a wonderful find, enabling you to walk around and zoom in and out on the artworks.   Turner's fingerprint caught for eternity in a watercolour. Bits of sand, rock and leaves caught in the paint when Monet painted outside.  Such physicality and immediacy can connect us to a place and time, the story of the room, the brushes, the process.   

Interior at Petworth. Detail. JMW Turner. 1837.
 The simplicity of a line drawing, when only a pencil separates the mind from the image can convey a power and honesty, revealed by it's lack of interference.  As Hockney said of Turners' watercolours "they come direct from the heart down the arm."
  I have always been fascinated by forgery.  Although an art of deception, a forger's intense scrutiny and accurate execution must give them an enviable closeness to the original artist.  Whether by sheer craftsmanship, imagery, scale or use of colour and medium, art in all it's forms can open our perception.

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