Heavy Criticism

As an art student it is often necessary to talk and write about your work. I have heard this is also true for practicing artists. In my time at university I have never experienced significant trouble meeting these expectations. I have always particularly enjoyed talking about my work whether it be informally, with friends, family or classmates, or in the more formal setting of a group critique or presentation. I also quite like writing and often find it helpful in the development of my artworks.

Despite this I have resisted writing about my work in any way that could be considered helpful. For a long time this website was devoid of any specific conceptual analysis. I felt that my artist’s statement along with the images and basic descriptions of my work should be more than enough for a critical viewer. Perusing the website now you may notice that this is no longer the case.

Originally I felt that writing about my work would be giving too much away. Good art is like a good conversation, it is a dialogue involving give and take. I did not want to bypass this potential dialogue by providing the audience with a definitive meaning right from the outset.

My recent experience minding First Draft gallery only served to reinforce my current development towards the elucidation of my artistic concerns through writing. Numerous people emerged from the Seminal Fluids installation hoping to find explanatory material provided. It is not as though they left the gallery having read the artist’s statement, but without viewing the work. For many this writing was the way into a work which otherwise confounded them. And really, who can blame them for being confounded?

It is strange that I could remain stubbornly blind to the position explicatory writing could play in the comprehension of my work, despite my predilection for conceptual art! Particularly considering the crucial position critical writings play in my own understanding and enjoyment of art.

In the last four years I have been forced to reconsider my position on a number of elements I once considered essential to my practice. It makes me wonder what I will have left behind in another four years. Or forty.

Perhaps I will be back where I started?


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