Duchamp said ‘the artist has only 50% of the responsibility and that is to get the work out, it is completed by the viewer.’
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.
I remember drawing as a child and really enjoying it. All it took was a single positive comment to keep me going back for more.
I still crave approval when I make work now but I have to deal with it in a new way to enable me to make work as an adult. I have to convince myself when I am producing work that it is good enough. By working and focusing on the process of making rather than thinking too much I can still be productive. If I think, I procrastinate and I stop working, so I don’t. If I stop working on piece of work I need to find another piece of work or idea to work on and keep busy.
After my recent visit to the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Architect Bjarke Ingels, I thought about my son an how inspirational this building could be to him and other younger viewers especially ones who loves Lego.
When I got home I showed my 8 year ago son the photos I had taken of the pavilion and I hope to take him to see it. I explained how the architect may have used Lego and looked at the way it stacks and interlinks to come up with the concept of the Serpentine. I hope that next time he plays with his Lego his mind might starting imagining all sorts of wild possibilities. These possibilities are endless and he should avoid getting stuck by thinking too much like I do, wondering if it is good enough.
If you’re in the Hyde Park area of London l fully recommend the short walk into the park to see it, it is on until 9th October.
One of the most useful tips I do when painting is to refer to the colour swatches on my studio wall.
To create the colour swatches l laid out all my oil paint tubes in groups of colour. Then l mixed white with each colour to make value scales. The paint needs to be thick and each colour requires a different amount of white to create a useful colour swatch.
The benefit of carrying out this task pays off every time you paint, for example; If you require a certain blue that works well with a certain green and red, you can refer to your colour swatches and solve your problem in seconds. Without carrying out this task it is almost impossible to know what blue to choose when matching with two other colours.
The intention my painting, ‘A moment of reflection maybe in order’ was partly to dissect appearance and to attempt to penetrate life’s underlying structure. It was painted following my research into existentialism, the philosophy that sought to identify man’s significance in a meaningless universe.
A review of Mary Heilmann exhibition, ‘Looking at pictures’ at the Whitechapel Gallery in London
(exhibition finishes 21 August 2016)
I wanted to come and see this show because I received a newsletter email from the Whitechapel Gallery showing the painting ‘Crashing Waves’, 2011. It’s dynamic, and simple composition drew me to the exhibition.
While viewing ‘Crashing Waves, ‘ I realised Mary Heilmann’s work was astonishingly beautiful. I was interested in how she had let things almost fall out of control in her paintings. I noticed the painterly marks with their different techniques from runny and washy paint to bold gestural marks were playing off against each other. Working in this free, spontaneous way must have been very exciting, challenging and a way of learning something new with each painting. I’m sure it will inspire some vibrant new work in my studio!
‘Carmilita’ (2004) & ‘Franz West’ (1995), I liked their freeness. They felt spontaneous even though they must have been carefully contemplated. There are physical traces of thought and play as if Mary Heilmann was attempting to control and balance the accidents. I’m sure she made other versions of these paintings as it is hard to control the failures that naturally occur when working this way. Pulling paintings back from the brink of collapse would have potentially spoiled this free way of working. The solution would be to try again and do another painting capturing and capitalising on the freeness without overworking the painting.
‘Carmilita’ (2004) & ‘Franz West’ (1995), drew me because I liked their freeness. They felt spontaneous even though they must have been carefully contemplated. There are physical traces of thought and play as if Mary Heilmann was a tempting to control and balance the accidents. I’m sure she made other versions of these paintings as it is hard to control the failures that naturally occur when working this way. Pulling paintings back from the brink of collapse would have potentially spoiled this free way of working. The solution would be to try again and do another painting capturing and capitalising on the freeness without overworking the painting.
Mary Heilmann’s work clearly shows she cares passionately about non-representational visual language and the joy of life. Her choice of colours, light and volume are a treat. I really enjoyed the exhibition and would recommend checking out the exhibition.
As I sat in my studio putting the finishing touches on the work above, I was aware of just how much I love painting.
And why is that, you may ask?
I’m not 100% sure why I am interested in these moments. I think if I did know why I am interested in this moments, these snapshots of chaos, I wouldn’t need to paint them. What I do know is when I left art school I wanted to describe in painting the alienation of living in this consumerist society. I think that my original ideas are still in my work, but my thoughts have progressed. I also found at that time depicting consumerism a challenge that never worked in the way I hoped it would. I was always interested in the space around us, this has become more prevalent recently.
It is common to pay attention to the physical things in the space around us. However, I am interested in paying attention to the space itself through the creative act of drawing, making and painting. Although I doubt this exploration can become a way of defining the fundamental character of space I hope to achieve and add further meaning and understanding. By slowing down, paying attention and recording using creative acts to focus on what stands out and using my experience as an artist, I hope I will enrich other people’s experience of being alive.
I want to make artwork that reflects what I see. Living with the incomplete meaning of the world.