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'What is the work of art about?'

Added on 04 August 2015

I don't think anyone who performs, publishes, or exhibits their work ever forgets the fear, trepidation and excitement of being reviewed in the media for the first time.

I vividly remember the strange feeling of reading someone's thoughts and opinions about my work written in print by someone I had never met. Much to my relief the four paragraphs given over to my exhibition were very enthusiastic and encouraging.

I was however surprised and puzzled to read that I had obviously been influenced by the work of Kandinsky. This was a new idea to me and certainly not anything that had occurred to me during the previous year it had taken me to put this exhibition together. Like many artists I know I am often frustrated at having to justify my work to others by placing it in context with other 'schools' or 'isms'. This is ultimately a futile exercise because artists mostly create their work as part of a solitary process. The complex artistic process involves arriving at an idea, planning an image and then composing it while physically applying media to a surface and often making many alterations to it before it is completed.

The very act of exhibiting work entails the artist placing their work in the public domain. Someone once explained that all the possibilities of a work of art exist like a forcefield between the work itself and the viewer. Place 100 people in front of any piece of art and you can be guaranteed 100 different interpretations of what they saw, almost all of these not what the artist intended. Once the reviewer or art historian enters their thoughts the work of art takes on a persona all it's own, often I suspect into areas the artist who created it never intended!


by Alan Watson - first posted 10:30 on 17 February 2012

Copyright Matters!