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GARLIC FOREST - Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
The art ‘establishment’ seems to lavish its attention on ‘artists’ that deal primarily in ideas, over ones that focus their attention on aesthetics. It does seem common practice to criticise art that doesn’t have an ‘obvious’ meaningful concept, you need only to visit any contemporary gallery to see this elitist philosophy in practice.
Now before I go on with this text, please don’t misinterpret my distain for this practice as total disregard. Unusual, dare I say new ‘ish’ ideas; certainly have the ability to inspire on a conceptual level. I’d even go so far as to say that I’ve been inspired into deeper thought by work that I personally wouldn’t be paid to hang on my wall. But puzzlingly there still does seem to be a tendency to give prominence, (rather than balance) to the beauty of the ‘idea’, over and above the aesthetics. In fact I'd go so far as to say that many of these conceptually weighted ideas have an almost venomous rejection of ‘beauty’.
Maybe the desire for intellectualisation of the critical art world born out of justification insecurity, is partly responsible? (The ‘starving artist’ is a secondary choice for many parents when advising their children into professions such as law, medicine or even accountancy.) let’s face it in our western culture, art is deemed to be icing on the capitalistic economic cake and like the icing on the main body, the conceptualists are desperately trying to dig a serious of defensible trenches underneath the sweetness. It does however puzzle me who started this elitist modern art philosophy? Is it human nature to work against the mainstream, attempting to stand out, to be (pseudo) fresh? I do have to say that this pretentiousness, (or more accurately, my perception of it) does get my back up. “To be deserving of the prestigious title of art the piece must have an ingenious slightly pretentious concept tagged on” and this mantra is religiously unquestionably followed. (Healthy cynicism or too much exposure to immature poorly thought out art student ideas?) Anyway why should a small minority established media savvy critics dictate mainstream views of what makes good art. Funny, I’m not even sure ‘they’ know themselves where this philosophy its coming from, but supporting the highbrow trend, keeps everybody else thinking they must be right.
In my own artistic philosophy, arts purpose is to first satisfy my own creative aims. I’m lucky to be able to produce art for myself alone, without the commercial pressures I once faced, (working in computer games). Yes this is a very selfish and insular aim, but deeply rewarding, as I can be free to develop in any direction, not worrying too much if the audience is following me.
My second aim from the work I produce is to catalyse some kind of emotional response. Again principally for myself, but this is where it changes slightly. As my insecure ego’s desire to be acknowledged wants others to be moved by the images I produce, as a form of recognition. This is where I want to communicate, but as an emotional response not an intellectual concept. This communication is a subtle thing, not a grand in your face message, but simply to explore the feelings of wonder and beauty emerged in the slender of the natural world. I’m not trying to capture people’s minds but their hearts. (Sorry for sounding all soppy and romantic, but the feelings I try to capture are the ones I love to feel when looking at our beautiful world. The wonderment, the joy, and the deep recharging connections I experience when amerced in raw nature).
Before I get all idealistic, let me be congruent. You may have spotted my own defence mechanism woven in to these words, as I try to justify my own philosophical standing and fight the establishment’s definition of what makes ‘good’ art. Maybe I am deluded and what I do is not ‘art’ at all and I should just accept that and stop worrying? But for me at least, it does deal with subtle communication of feelings towards nature, for the purpose of attempting to explore and develop my own relationship with it. I want my work to championing the deep spiritual beauty that our natural world has and highlight my own desire to preserve and protect it. Granted, not gritty social realism, but I don’t what that, I don’t live in a city, and I hate concrete and graffiti. To stereotypically conceptualise what I do would seem to dilute what fundamental creative purpose, it would feel like tagging on concepts. Rather than exploring the beauty of the nature and the natural would, I would be manipulating it to serve my own ‘desire to be recognised as an artist’ ends... this internal struggle I face is a tough circle to square, as I do see the advantages of both, but I first and foremost want to explore and document my own perception of beauty based on the places I choose to represent. And if a concept that fits my notion of beauty materialises, then great, but it must fit my philosophy
My art is about escapism. I want to remove myself from the destructive selfish economical greed of man. I want to place myself in a safe place, and nature for me has a natural balance, it doesn’t take more than it needs, it provides balance in everything it does, ultimately it offers us as a species valuable lessons, if we are prepared to see them that is. Why can’t more people see past their own selfishness and recognise that we must work with it, as ultimately or environment is what sustains us, without it we cease to exist.
If I were to communicate a message it would be to highlight just how selfishly destructive we as humans are, I would need to show this in some way and introduce this in to my aesthetics. But herein lies the problem, I want to avoided, escape this. I want to champion the purity of the natural world; I want to transmit optimistic emotions, so that I personally can escape our selfish, capitalistic world. I’m sounding naive here, and I accept that I probably am to a degree, but my message is backed up by fact, not jump on the popular bandwagon tree huggers.
Bringing obvious concepts into what I do does seem very appealing, Christ I even went to my local river the other day, inspired by half writing this text and photographed a sewer pipe juxtaposed against the beautiful surroundings. But it felt like I was tagging on a form of humanisation for the sake of it. It felt very wrong! I personally want to seek out and champion the absence of humans and any of their destructive systems. So why would I want to destroy my escapism by introducing conceptual elements.... conceptually congruent with my views but paradoxically opposite to my escapist purposes...
Note: this was taken leaning over a fence, in the pouring rain with two kids in my guardianship trying to kill each other next to the river... as you can imagine I was somewhat stressed and had to work quickly. (o:
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