A painting has to stand up by itself

Duchamp said ‘the artist has only 50% of the responsibility and that is to get the work out, it is completed by the viewer.’

©2016 Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object (2016) Oil on aluminium panel 80 cm x 120 cm
©2016 Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object (2016) Oil on aluminium panel 80 cm x 120 cm

In my understanding of contemporary art, the Duchamp quote that the work is completed by the viewer is a really important. Often I think viewers look at work and immediately ask themselves why did the artist make this? What is he or her trying to say? Asking an artist to explain what his art means in my view defeats the ambition of the artist.

The person viewing the work comes to see the work with their own unique background, knowledge and history. It is important to understand that art is not like design where everything has a purpose and a function. Trying to understand why artists make the work in the first place is immaterial. The art work now exists on its own, and it has to stand up by itself.

Everyone sees things differently, people make their own connections. Two things are put together and they create meaning. Once the artwork is made it has to be completed by the viewer, with their imagination. The best artwork in my eyes means different things to different people.

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