Friday, February 10, 2012

'What Type of Art Do You Make?' and Other Deceptively Challenging Questions

When a new friend discovers that I'm an artist, the question that follows is usually, 'what type of art do you make?'  A daunting question, to be sure.  How can I sum my art practice (years of thinking, painting, making, trial and error and creative block) in just one teeny-tiny sentence?  The best idea is to have an answer prepared ahead of time, knowing that I will be asked.  But even that is overwhelming.  And how to do it without descending into art jargon my new friend may be ignorant of?

Here's how it usually goes...
"well - ah... I'm a painter?... and I make abstract work about shapes and space and ah... but I don't just paint pictures on canvas.  I'm interested in installation and stuff as well....?"  *hopeful grin* 
Ah, that went well...

To be succinct, but jargony: 
Geometric abstraction

Painting, installation, drawing
Expressions of undulating/unimportant/surrounding space
My art practice.

Isn't 'undulating' a fabulous word! Unduuulatiiing.

When initially making artwork I began, as I suppose most do, by making representational (IE: work that is a representation of something that exists) paintings/drawings.  I often found myself wanting to simplify and stylize my subject. Organic details and lines would become blocky.  Art school gave me the freedom to take this to the nth degree.  I rocketed towards geometric abstraction (IE: abstract artwork which is based on the use of geometric forms). 

While the art I consume contains representational and non-representational work, in my own art practice I found myself less interested in making representational art.  I wasn't interested in trying to reproduce something that already existed and furthermore, something that had perhaps been photographed as a reference to paint from, I would be thus reproducing the reproduction.  Having said that, I hold no illusions that my work is 100% original, I don't live in a vacuum so I will always be influenced by other artists and creative practice and so much the better. But I am content to experiment with my own visual language and see where it takes me.

I have been ponderously-pondering these things as I prepare for my upcoming exhibition and the prospect of showing my work.  When I've shown work before, I had been overly self-conscious.  But now I am more at ease with my processes and reasoning.  Still, it is challenging to bring artwork into the light of day and to the eyes of those who have never seen my work before.  But bring it!

*Hehe, note: 'What type of art do you make?' was actually the only deceptively challenging question contained within.

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