Monday, 13 June 2011

is 'art' the problem?

I've been having a few conversations with people recently about the idea of 'authenticity' in relation to 'good'. Someone suggested that when we respond to a piece of work, perhaps even going so far as to say that it's good, what we're responding to may be authenticity. By authenticity I mean the ideas I talked about in 'being good or being you' - that what you pick up in the painting that you like could be a sense of the person's attempt to find their own way; their urges, preferences and questions. Whereas work that we might feel is 'bad' is perhaps work that isn't sure of itself. Someone else suggested that this second kind of work may be largely derivative, in the sense that it's based on ideas that have been picked up from culture and experience about 'what a painting is' or 'what art is'. I'm not talking about the nebulous impossibility of 'being original' here. 'Originality' seems to be as much of a problem as 'art'.

Perhaps the 'bad' work is also more self-conscious. The person producing it surely must have the same urge for colour, response to form, fascination with texture etc as anyone else in the world who is producing things. But maybe they are unconsciously limiting the range of their possible responses with these half-conscious notions about what it means to 'make art' or 'be an artist'. And probably watching themselves from the other side of the room.

It strikes me that this is why I like the idea of 'creativity' much more. With creativity, you can do what the hell you like. You can throw pink watercolour onto a piece of wallpaper just to see what it looks like. You can take a red wax crayon and drag it through the pink just to see what happens. It doesn't matter what someone else will think. It doesn't matter if it's art. The point is not, 'am I making good paintings' but 'how brave can I be with this pink colour in my hand?'....

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