Finally I understand what bothers me about critics, their use of one criterion for valuing art; it’s worth dependant on its newness relative to the art of its time.
The lament that (Tom) Thomson didn’t live long enough to prove his worth (or not) re: abstract expressionism, that the art (it’s perception at least) must be the Cutting Edge of art contemporary seems a false value.
Few critics appear interested in why artists make the art in the first place. The art then is valued on a system that is rarely employed by the artist making the work; one outside the artist’s frame of reference.
There are many valuable reasons for persuing art activity; newness for its own sake isn’t one of them. That is merely novelty.
Quality is undefinable and unknowable in the ‘collective’ sense. The variation of factors and perceptions are too great for any meaningful consensus. The hierarchy of the perception of values in Pirsig’s book Lila places intellect at the top of the pyramid. But is it that simple?
As an abstract argument it is a workable hypothesis but does it advance far enough? How do we separate intellect from emotion? We continually rationalize and re-interpret experiences using both thought and feeling.
All these observations were written after a showing of my work at Gallery 96. In conversation with a gallery owner he thought my drawings were from the sub-terrarium world, I said “What, pre-history?” and his response was “No, before time!” That remains the biggest compliment my work has ever received.
An artist friend thought I should concentrate on the big sculptures, another said I needed to stay focused on just one thing. These observations are made by linear thinkers, uncomprehending that the installation entitled TURN was the encapsulation of an idea that needed to express itself through many forms and materials for completion.
My thought was to express the finiteness of our existence in space and our infinite existence in time – or should that be the other way around?
I believe this some days and some days I don’t believe both either and or, but when I am working it is not a belief. It is awareness, a certainty with no need for a visible foundation.