Sunday, August 27, 2017

Artist Talk: Is Art (Modern Art) a hoax?

This round-up is based on my ‘’artist talk’’ session held in NACC on Aug 11, 2017. It is just the elaboration of the outlines covered during the artist talk session. Last year I read a pocket book, Is Christianity a Hoax, which is a very interesting topic, so I borrowed its title to apply here.

Great style is a great disguise –

For an artist, the ability is much more important than the style. I believe ‘’form follows function’’, or ‘’form follows content’’. If so, an artist is not supposed to be restricted by any style. Actually, ‘’style’’ is the label mostly used by other people to analyze your works. It might show up very naturally but we’d better not to ‘’design” the style. Great style is just a great disguise. A real artist is an actor or an actress, when he or she finished a film (the art project), just like took off a disguise. Perhaps in the previous film, he or she played a role as a drug dealer, but then in the upcoming film, his or her role will be a cop. We can say either the ‘’drug dealer’’ or the ‘’cop’’ is just the ‘’style’’ of the creation.

People may argue that lots of excellent artists or actors/actresses are well known for a particular ‘’style’’ throughout the history of art/film. That is the truth, but I think that is mainly because of commercial reason, that by sticking to a particularly ‘’style’’ it might be easy for one to stand out from the market, but I also think the great artists or actors/actresses can master various ‘’style’’; and that ability to ‘’switch between different styles’’ is vital.

We live in an era that ‘’specialist’’ dominates the world, but back to Renaissance time, many artists are also excellent scientists, musicians, etc., Compared with modern artists, old masters have strong ability to control a great deal of variety.

Is it necessary to have artist’s statement? –

Language is so powerful that it might be used to manipulate people’s mind. A typical example of powerful language is the leading question or suggestive question on the court. Attorneys are busy with identifying and objecting to these types of questions on the court. Although here we are talking about art, which has nothing to do with justice, or even right or wrong, the subtle influence of language could not be underestimated.

Scholars, such as Elizabeth Loftus, have found out the connection between suggestive question and confabulation in the legal setting though. Any suggestive words, by verbal or by written communication, have subtle impact on people’s cognition.

This might be more obvious regarding abstract art. For example, an artist draws a few small black dots scattered around a big circle, then he attached a lengthy statement to explain this drawing represents celestial motion or comet hitting the earth, etc., we might immediately ‘’feel’’ these dots are ‘’special’’ – they are not normal dots.

There could be a reason for us to think so. First, we actually like ‘’lie’’. While on the court people dig the hidden truth, in the art exhibition we are quite tolerant to the ‘vague things’. The court just needs dry fact, yet the audiences of the art exhibition might unconsciously be looking for sort of ‘’meaning’’ embedded in the art, something bigger-than-life. However, do we search any philosophical meaning in Chopin’s Nocturne? I think most of us don’t.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong about attaching artist statement, I myself sometimes also try to ‘’explain’’ my artwork, but I’m just wondering if music can speak to us directly, why the art can’t be self-explained considering it’s a visual language?

Artist is a logic person –

People like to think artist is sort of ‘’special species’’, or sometimes the profile of a ‘’psycho’’ seems to be much closer to an artist. However, as we know, old masters in Renaissance time are very logic people. In fact, putting abstract art aside, the starting point of art is all about observation – proportion, angles, volumes, lighting, negative spaces, etc., Even Picasso can give you an “abstract” bull, that’s only because, as he said, I can draw as good as Raphael when I was a teenager.

If someone says, I cannot capture such realistic object, that most likely because he or she didn’t observe well, particularly for us modern people living in an age dominated by technology. Most of time, we only look, but never observe. OR, we look at the outside world through camera or mobile phone, but even the machine can record the reality in the most precise way, it doesn’t ‘’observe’’ too. Sometimes, drawing is about geometric problem, although nobody really uses the ruler to measure the angle between the eyes and the nose.

So, Impressionism, Fauvism or Cubism, or whatever ‘’ism’’, they are all rooted from the necessity of ‘’marketing differentiation’’, not the deficiency of skill set.

What do you think about running an ice cream shop near the beach? We can sell vanilla gelato on Monday, then chocolate gelato on Wednesday, finally we will have an ‘’abstract gelato’’( in an empty cone) on Sunday, but the most important thing is, we need to know how to make a real ice cream at first.

So if we can make both real ice cream and abstract ice cream, can we succeed? –

You need him – Ambroise Vollard. Just him. 

Picasso said, ‘’The most beautiful woman who ever lived never had her portrait painted, drawn or engraved any oftener than Vollard…’’

So google him.

Finally, today’s takeaway --

Bonus in the takeaway --

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