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The Beauty of the Beast

January 13, 2015


I can’t help but feel that the notion of beauty in art serves to distract from the serious nature of profound statement or intent. This of course relates to the western notion of high art which is somewhat contrived and elitist, held up as a beacon of humanity at its highest level. I believe it can in fact be a distraction for both artist and viewer, compelling many artists to follow a limited aesthetic in search of validation. I speak here from my own experience and the shackles that once held me firmly within a tradition, a tradition that taught me much, but not the ways of freedom.  I believe that the aspiration to a higher plane or notion of beauty can induce a process that corrupts the aesthetic sensibility of an artist, often leading to pretence and contrivance, in short artistic statements that are shrouded in a conventional uniformity. At this point I would like to introduce my belief that art should be both rebellious and revolutionary as it flirts with anarchy, because originality is not the by-product of conformity. Whilst some of my statements may appear bold, they are just questioning the notion of preconception, when it comes to the creative process. In particular the pressures that I feel that I have been subjected to as an artist and through my writing I’m hoping to find my freedom.

A problem facing all artists is, just where and how can you fit into a society that believes in conventional policies of appropriation and control, whereby art is almost neutralised and suffocated through institutional sanitation.  The assignation of the collective aesthetics of the so-called ism’s are equally as corrosive to artistic freedom in my opinion, because they set a tone/parameters and give a conventional context for following as opposed to pursuing an individualistic empowerment through creative flexibility. I have arrived at this point in my thinking as a direct result of my practice and the incongruities that I was unable to decipher, therefore to pursue my creativity any further I must first resolve a clarity in my own thinking.

In this prescriptive society I feel that we are losing the ability to engage with art without prejudice and I myself am equally culpable of this. Again I write this from my own experience and observations, because I feel that on the whole we are not questioning the art work we see beyond its appearance in front of us and what we are told it means. Therefore we are feasting on the equivalent of ready-made meals, neatly set out before us. My own remedy is to enter an engagement with works of art without prejudice and preconceptions and only then will I stand a chance of seeing and feeling what it actually is. Forget who made it or when it was made or even where you are looking at it, just close your eyes, empty your mind and with respect, just observe and see if it moves you in any way. Removed from valued judgments and the weight of your own burdens, a work of art may take you on a journey to an unexpected place or it may leave you cold, but at least it gave you a chance. Here again the fame culture in art corrupts our objective appraisal as we learn to accept who is the great and the good,  by reputation. Some of the most amazing art produced will never see the light of day or reach the masses because of the way art is organised through the generality of societies institutions. Of course all that I’m writing about is part of societies evolutionary curve and the regulated  distribution of cultural material in a world that is not as free as it would appear.

I believe there is no conventional wisdom that encompasses “art” and what you feel you like is just a feeling, it is always good to be aware that ones assumed taste can be based on accidental/incidental prejudice and that what you say you like or dislike may not be an absolute truth. We are all closed to certain aspects of life and open to others, through  this we define ourselves, but an intention of art is to open our eyes and broaden our perceptions so that we can observe and experience life with a greater lateral possibility. In short I would conclude that art offers us the chance to expand our horizons if we allow it to, though it will always catch people unawares too. I feel that through making art my own eyes have been opened widely and though it has made me question the validity of what I once took for granted, it has offerd me the opportunity to feel empowered so tha I may follow my own path.

Now in the 21st century we are all becoming savvy consumers, we know what we like and we like what we know but how discerning are we. For instance can we recognise what is interesting before the collective consciousness of society does, that is are we leaders of, or followers of. With art I feel there is an opportunity to discover for yourself, if only you have the strength of character and belief to appreciate what you feel deep inside. Now by understanding that art may not be there to be judged, but instead observed and considered, you are offered a means to discover a huge part of who you really are. Whether you like it or not is of no real value to the validity of art, instead it is often a reflection of whim and a statement of self empowerment. So to reiterate my point, if you observe art with an open heart and mind, you should experience more of what it has to offer. It is my feeling  that art should be for the ordinary people, but in a way it must be claimed back and reappropriated from the so-called elite who have been smothering it for years, with their attempts to own it.

I firmly believe that art should not be made to be liked or disliked, for me it is in fact a statement, a communication and it is always prudent to observe with an open mind. And if you ever hear yourself saying “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like” then you are missing the point that no one actually knows much about art. The self-appointed who seek to own art and explain its secrets to us are all part of a great pretence that lifts art into the realms of an elitist minority. In short if art is not understandable to the masses then it can become an irrelevance to society, beyond the bragging rights of the elite. In fact the whole notion of masterpieces, the esoteric language and terminology surrounding art is an anathema to what I believe art should represent. Art as vein trophies to, empires, nations and the greedy rich is in my opinion pure vulgarity and to think that it can be seen as an investment is nothing more than a complete bastardisation of art. This is why I bang on about the importance of dedication, sincerity, truth, integrity and authenticity in art because without it art is in danger of becoming a contrivance.

Strong words I know 🙂 but I feel so passionate about art that I feel compelled to offer my thoughts and take, on a life in art, if I didn’t feel this passion I would not be able to work with such commitment. I also must reiterate that I write very much in the moment as a flow of consciousness and I never read my blogs once they are published 🙂 as always my thoughts are not fixed and just part of an ongoing reflection.

For most artists, life proves to be a rocky road, you are forced to act intuitively to your circumstances and the reactions your work receives, I would describe it as a somewhat bruising life. However a life without challenges is unthinkable, so with art there is an opportunity to find some interesting meanings or reasons for being. I believe it helps to be naively optimistic, because it allows you to take the knocks and go forward smiling living in a perpetual state of hope. Occasionally the struggles of surviving as an artist can become too much and it leads to states of crisis, when this happens you have to address it and find a way forward. So there is no constant for those that endure the struggle, which is probably a good thing because it keeps your state of being alive.
When I started this page I saw myself purely as a sculptor, my perception of self then started to alter and I started to see myself more as an artist and took to an exploration of my creativity through drawing. I also started to write more and more  bogs so that I could reflect on a life in art and slowly all the elements of my creative compulsions started to come together, allowing me to move forward. In one sense I no longer feel the need to think of myself with any labels beyond just being human. It’s strange when you feel compelled to identify with a label to define your life, on one hand it gives you a feeling of a purpose in society, but it also puts a pressure on you to conform to being what you feel that role entails.
Art has opened many doors for me on a personal level and delivered many answers to my questioning mind, but ultimately it has brought me to a place where I’m starting to feel quite free. I no longer feel that I have to justify my endeavors, because I have nothing to prove. So now I have the opportunity to develop whatever aspect of my creativity that feels right. One day I hope to return to the state where a day without any creative gesture is acceptable to me , because at the moment it simply isn’t.


Art is life and life is art

❤ ❤ ❤


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