How do you find meaning in art if everyone can instantly claim to be an ‘artist’? Look for art that has some obvious sign that it was originally made. When you can see where the artist left a telltale sign of their hand or vision, you can for a moment be in that same fraction of time as the artist was.
Technology. Obviously, it is not going anywhere without the extinction of humans. Sometimes it works great, and when it is not, it does not. In the vast field of contemporary art technology has sometimes played an interesting role, beginning with the invention of Photoshop and now with trained-on-the-fly AI generating art-like images. They are everywhere and those numbers are growing exponentially. Digital creation has become cheap, easy, and universally accessible to anyone with a cell phone.
So how do you find meaning in art if everyone can instantly claim to be an ‘artist’? How do you find meaning with art? Interesting questions.
I can answer one aspect of those questions: Buy original art, but specifically art that was made by the hand of an artist using materials they have a passion for. Can that be digital art? Sure. But art that will bring you deeper meaning is art that has the literal depth that digital art does not convey. An example of this would be to look at a photo of a painting online and then see that painting in person. The difference between those two views is exactly what I am trying to talk about. That is the juicy stuff which is not simulated but authentically experienced. Art with a physicality that endures offers a contemplative experience because both you and art are physically present. You and the artist are sharing a location and a viewpoint because you both stood before that canvas or sculpture in the same location considering some of the same aspects of the art. The internet is spectacular for a great many things, but technology has created a thin film over the connections people used to make with each other and slightly distanced us from one another in that respect, and original art repairs that connection.
Buy art that you find appealing and do not think about “Does it go with my couch?” or “Where would it belong in my home?” If it is a piece of wall art, it goes on a wall and can be moved from one room to another pretty dang easily. Buying art is an effortless process, just visit an art gallery to see what they are showing, and if you see something you like –Bingo! - but it is also OK if you do not like anything there. If that is the case, come back when they have different art on the walls as a good gallery will change things up regularly, particularly if they sell pieces frequently. Look for art that has some obvious sign that it was originally made as part of how you find meaning with art is in the seeing of where the artist left a telltale sign of their hand or vision. If cost is an issue, ask the gallery if they may be able to help you out with a better price or payment terms. My experience is that at least half of the time they can and will.
What art do you respond to? By that I mean what do you find attractive or interesting (which could even be a feeling hard to identify but you might say “I don’t know what it is about that piece, but for some reason I like it.” The colors are pretty. The shapes are interesting. It reminds you of a person, place, or thing that you like to think of or had long forgotten. Personally, I enjoy both representational painting and abstract work, good examples of these are Dutch paintings of flowers and Jackson Pollacks random-yet-not paint splatters. When you can see where the artist's hand was either by the detail of the brush stroke, or carefully but edge of paper, or the casting of bronze or shaping of clay, you can for a moment be in that same fraction of time as the artist was. They let you know they were there, and now you are there too. This is how an artist communicates an experience or perspective of theirs to you via your nervous system.
In my own work the feeling of being in a place or viewing something thoughtfully is what I try to build into the painting. I like feeling as though paintings are built from a foundation (often canvas) up to the topmost paint or varnish. The layers in-between either show readily or peek out only on careful observation. Sometimes the color looks directly applied conveying my intent or it may look as though it were mixed right on the canvas as the thought formed around the mark. Sometimes even the frame around the work adds a bit to what is said with the painting. I will even elaborate on that in a blog post some other time.
Back to my point. The meaning you take from a painting, for example, can live with you and evolve over time. In a painting you see and even envision the process (or glimpses of it) that you might consider. Then there is the texture and consistency of the paint and its application which can allude to the painter's thoughtfulness or emotions while making the work. Are the details so fine and photorealistic that it verges on being a meditative process? Are the brush strokes so hurried as to imply the artist was feeling afire with the concept or highly agitated about bringing it to completion? Is the painting dark, light, foreboding, cheerful, socially observant or commentary?
An original painting in your home not only brings its vitality to you or contributes meaning to your life but is also a statement to others about you and conveys so much of who you are to others- creating more of that connection I mentioned earlier. It can even strengthen bonds between family and friends. Art has a power to it unlike anything else and technology cannot (for now) replace that.
So, until next time…
Please visit one of my partner galleries in person when you get the chance:
www.thornwoodgallery.com or www.thecommercegallery.com
Feel free to mention my name and they may even offer added insight or special considerations while you are there since you “know the artist”.