Thursday, 31 January 2008

Drawing Conclusions

It’s a simple thing to do, drawing. You sit down with a piece of paper before you, attack it with a pen/pencil/paint/blood (Sorry, been watching X-files again…) and produce an image. This image may or may not have some specific significance or it may simply be a brain belch (see R. Hing, Artwork of). Frequently that depends on the viewer. That sounds odd, yet it has struck me that art only finds its expression in its audience (or in the case of post-modern art, its victims). We will never know exactly what Michaelangelo was thinking during the painting of the Cistine Chapel, but you can find out what it means today by asking people who’ve seen it what they think, and what they think Michaelangelo was thinking. Of course these observations are tinted by the expectations and pre-conceptions of the people making them, thus rendering the art a reflection of that person’s life or cultural experiences. Of course, an interesting scenario is when people come across something to which they have no point of reference. Personally I find this confusing, or sometimes down-right annoying as my brain struggles (and fails) to interpret what I’m seeing. Some people find it liberating, and I confess the odd flash of envy towards these people. To avoid straying too far from the point,, it can be said that it in our own interpretation of art, we are all interpreting a part of ourselves, and for that let us be glad. Of course, recognising and acknowledging this is not always easy. Seeing a picture that seems to be dark and nasty with little or no redeeming features (and then realising that you are face to face with the darker side of your own nature) could provide a shock, if not outright disgust. I don’t argue that this is always the case. There are some images where the room for interpretation is minimal (such as portraits), but in other cases we must acknowledge the power of the artist. It may be that the true gift of an artist is not so much their powers of creation, but their ability to choose which parts of ourselves we are forced to confront, whether the divine and inspiring like Michaelangelo, or the dark and demonic like Blake (or some of Mark’s recent creations!). Perhaps, in these dim mirrors reflecting the depths and heights of our souls, we can catch a glimpse of who we are, and by the work of someone we have never met (or sometimes never even heard of), we can discover a little more of the way we fit into the world around us…

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