Monday, October 7, 2013

State of the Art

Forgive me for the brief post and for painting in such broad strokes.

See what I did there?  It's a post about art and I made a funny that...never mind it's not funny after all.  Punny, perhaps...

The BBC Culture page currently has a collection of reviews from Alastair Sooke as he examines a few of the more exciting exhibitions and installations going on today.  Sooke is an art critic and art historian of great renown and his contributed a significant body of work to the BBC, the UK's Daily Telegraph, and other media outlets. Now on with the art...

One of the more amusing questions asked by the column is "Filth or Fine Art?" The piece looks at examples of Japanese erotica from the 18th and 19th centuries.  The answer to the question depends largely upon your own sensibilities but the column does help reveal origins as to why the Japanese seem to love "tentacle porn." Please either read the article or Google the phrase as I don't care to get into it on my blog.

Also included are articles that are more about art history, such as reviews of an ancient Roman glass vase (yes, glass) and the anatomical renderings of Leonardo da Vinci.  This is all in addition to contemporary (by way of comparison) art from Australia.

Of the most intriguing and immediate interest to me was the review of British painter, Peter Doig.  Doig, who currently has an exhibition underway at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, has been quoted as saying the following about his art:

“I really don’t know what my paintings are about,” says the visionary British artist Peter Doig. “And I don’t want to. I don’t see the point. If I analyse them, I wouldn’t make them. There has to be an unknown element to be interesting.”

This is not uncommon among artists and writers.  It's almost as if the creator is as much in the dark about the product as anyone else is, like they become the mere vessel for the expression of something else.  And if you end up being compared to Gaugin as Doig is, then that's not a bad way to have it.

Consider the rather psychedelic painting above that is entitled, "Man Dressed as Bat." Obviously I find it to have a pulpy and comic bookish appeal and can easily imagine the figure as a justice-seeking picaro, but the messages in the painting don't stop there.  No it's far eerier than that, more otherworldly.  At the same time, it evokes nature and our connection to it, all primal and totemic.  “That was based on a famous carnival character,” Doig says. “It’s much closer to the folklore of Trinidad [where Doig currently resides].”

So now I have a new artist to keep watch for.  As if I needed more convincing, please see this quote:

“I need to be on my own,” he says, “and to disappear into my studio. Otherwise I would never get anything done.”

I hear you, brother.

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