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Artful Purpose

August 7, 2014

485

At last I think I’ve found a solution to one of my long running issues concerning the authenticity of art in a commercial environment, which is the work that results from an intent of purpose and has a reason for being created, beyond exhibition and commodity. Recently an aspiring artist that I know was excited about the prospect of an exhibition, they would have to produce about 30 paintings and whilst excited they were also overwhelmed at the prospect. In principle it sounds great but the notion of an exhibition and the pressures it brings to bear are very complex and can influence the subsequent art, subverting the intent behind the work and tailoring the outcome. It is here that the fracking process begins as the insertion of a small compromise will definitively effect the outcome, even though the artist may be totally unaware, you could even say be blissfully unaware and blinded by the success. I’ve been here many times in my own life and the kudos of notoriety and success were never enough to compensate for a feeling that something was missing deep within. It has taken years to deconstruct myself and finally come to terms with the fact that compromise is the enemy of art and that compromise leads in a sense to applied art and an unfulfilled life. I’ve made changes in my own practice and now I produce the work first and see where it takes me. Suddenly it feels right when I fill my kiln with work that was made for the reasons of my own exploration.

Kiln

When I look at recent art history, particularly the twentieth century, I’m absolutely amazed by the framework in which the artists were held, the fashions and isms that dominated art appear like a meaningless process employed to restrict the freedom of expression. Where a lifes work could be dedicated to a principle that bound an artist to a dependable and predictable role in society. Small bands of artists and academics colluded and formed their groups to empower themselves yet in this very act they were becoming disempowered as they were condemning their lives to common goals and restrictive practices. Like an advanced industrial society taking control of the right to freedom beyond the obvious, art became a pawn for the elite and artists duly performed when the price was right. But there was a heavy price to pay as art became cornered and the notion of looking for the next big thing has started to dominate and subvert art into a shallow performance of difference. That something so timeless and beautiful to human existence can be categorized into  simplistic confines is tragic and in my opinion wrong. That there is an elite who act as custodians of our cultural experience is plainly a disgrace, where money overrides wisdom, sensitivity and intelligence. I feel this is where artists need to have the courage to stand up and take responsibility, but it’s not easy when the whole system indoctrinate’s, controls and conditions by every means possible. Around the art world there is a whole industry and the critics and academics play a huge role in creating the mythology that transfix’s us all, the truth is that there is no truth beyond the singular experience of a personal engagement with art. I don’t like to have to write what is obvious but the fact is that in art there is just so much bullshit which troubles me deeply, my own art and journey has been both complicated and enlightening yet it has no place within the parameters of a simplistic system based on compromise and dilution. I often mention it but if you want success in the modern art scene you have to calculate your approach and jump through the hoops, in short you have to play the game.

Having worked independently for thirty years I’ve come up with an interesting perspective on art and society, it’s one that has surprised me and one that I’ve had trouble sharing because it’s a little controversial, to say the least. But it would be wrong of me to not share openly my feelings which are based on a true passion and love of art. I’ve dedicated my whole life to something I believe in and  I couldn’t imagine a more difficult and complicated existence, however the rewards feel substantial.

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