In a previous post, another blogger asks how much the personality of the artist influences the work. This question came to me right at a time when I was wondering just what was at the core of my own current painting. I had just interviewed Mark Smith, who stated that he was once told that he had almost too much facility with paint - and so clarity of intent became paramount with him. Aesthetics were not a big part of our conversation, save to say that he does “curate” his color choices out of the found fabric from the bins. And it’s not just the “pretty” which grabs his attention. Sometimes he likes the repulsive, he said, something he can reinterpret or salvage.
But as I return to painting from a hiatus following the Richter Scale, I’ve found that meaning, intent, theory, concepts and all the rest of it takes a big back seat. Can’t say exactly why this is but perhaps it has something to do with just the need for survival. If paint is to survive for me in these lean times, it has to come down to essential brass tacks. There’s not enough money, time or kudos to hang it all on anything else. I just wanted to find my way back to paint, wrapping the territory up in color and light and figure out the manifesto later.
Of course that is tough because not everyone has the same idea about “beauty” and in fact some people really hate it. Some in the art world find beauty circumspect and thin. Art serves community, agendas and ideas and just about everyone is “challenging” something. Maybe this was the question the blogger was asking – can an artist just serve (or rather, serve up) their personality?
So today was a perfect day to check out “Pretty Ugly” at 12 x 16. Kerry Davis and Jim Neidhardt have put together an exhibition which addresses the pretty and the ugly, all comprised of found objects. (I’ll have a video of it up soon.) The artists said that many people liked the ugly over the pretty, or at least found those objects more interesting. I couldn’t help noticing, too, how rooted in gender the dividing line was: the color pink ruled the roost of the pretty room. No doubt the show meant to be much more about aesthetics than gender, but then again a word like “pretty” is kind of loaded.
Maybe that is why the title for Mary Heilmann's show was so great, almost provocative: "Some Pretty Colors." Like how dare that be enough. But it surely is.