Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Take your time: a day for giving art the attention it deserves - Visual Art | News and Articles on Visual Art |The Irish Times - Tue, Apr 08, 2014

Take your time: a day for giving art the attention it deserves - Visual Art | News and Articles on Visual Art |The Irish Times - Tue, Apr 08, 2014

Scamper around galleries? Check. Take in this? Check. Glance at that? Check. Go around and have another quick look? Been there, done that.

When I was in art college in Limerick, we did a day in Dublin at least once, and did a whistle-stop tour of galleries. Well, we had to. We only had one day, and several galleries to visit. The longest one was an hour in IMMA, and I spent most of the time there in the café meeting my brother who happens to live quite near it.

The more I think about this, the more I realise that this running around and glancing at pictures actually defeats the purpose of making art in the first place. You have to get yourself out of bed, out of the house, into the bus or car, and off to the city where the art venue is located .... and then run around. There's no time to really look. So course, if you're not looking, you're not seeing what's there, and if you're not seeing what's there, you're not able to appreciate the work you're looking at. And why would you buy something, why would you shell out a humongous amount of cash for something you cannot stop to see and appreciate?

The irony is that artists make art so that it will be placed in someone's home, and not so much become part of the furniture as part of the family, and even generate conversations over the years. It can become more than an 'investment'. Those who buy it, buy it because they've seen something in it, and want the chance to see more, and contemplate the work ... and so have a kind of long-term conversation (for want of a better word) with the piece. When I had my exhibition in the Law Library in Dublin, I had my enormous work Truth Universally Acknowledged hanging there, in rather a prominent position. One of the legal professionals who had an office in the building, upon hearing that I was there, came out to meet me and to tell me how much he enjoyed that particular painting. "I come by and look at it for half an hour at a time," he told me "and every time I find something new in it. I love it," he continued "but if I brought it home, the wife would kill me." The painting is six foot long by four foot wide, you'd need a large room to hang it, and yes I suppose the wife has a point .... it's hanging right behind me as I tap into my laptop.

And I'm also guilty of giving away pieces for free to friends, because I know that those friends will appreciate the works and hang them where they can be admired. I can't help thinking I know people who would give a dog or a cat away to someone they know and trust, because they know that dog or cat will have a happy life with that person. Sometimes I think that way about my paintings. (But then I mentally slap myself and tell myself to cop on.)

But back to the whistle-stop gallery visits thing: does this mean that blogging your art is the way to go? And using online sales portals like Saatchi and all the rest? And Flickr.com?

I've viewed a lot of work on those websites. Would I look at them if they were hanging in galleries? I like to think I would. But would I give them the proper attention they deserve in a gallery? Honestly, I'm not sure I would - not if I knew I could have them up on my computer screen for as long as I liked, and could admire them sitting in the comfort of my own home. But you don't get the same quality, obviously, and it's difficult to see certain ways of painting when the piece is reproduced this way. Impasto kind of loses its impact.

I want to look at the work of other artists. But I live far away from Dublin, and sometimes even Limerick is a bit problematic to get to, logistically speaking. And as for London, Paris, Berlin .... so many other distractions when I go on trips to those cities - but I do visit galleries when abroad. I can see works online, but I can't experience the impact that a large Rothko canvas can have ... one of these days I'll get to see those works for real. For now, though, it's online. Realistically I don't have time to view them properly any other way.

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