One of the hardest things about making highly personal art is that it hurts when others criticise it. When it’s genuinely your heart and soul and deep deep feelings out there on the canvas, any negative comment cuts one to the quick.
However, it’s also the case that when someone connects with it emotionally, when it resonates with their experience and they tell you about that then it truly seems worth the hurt elsewhere, to be able to connect that deeply.
Most art I see online strikes me as being empty calorie art. It doesn’t actually have either a deep emotional connection or deep intellectual validity. Most of it is pretty, well crafted or beautiful, but it’s wall decoration that simply doesn’t deliver a punch to the gut. There’s nothing wrong with this, nothing wrong with simply making pretty images but people and dealers always try to engineer meaning, often post rationalising and inventing a narrative, post-completion, like a great punchline that needs a convoluted set up to be able to deliver it.
Much of what used to be called high art is, currently, similarly simple sloganeering couched in a shroud of art language. You see a Banksy piece and you can look at it multiple ways and extract more from it with each viewing (which for me makes it great) but much of what is currently fashionable is an inbred or bastardised descendent of pop art, semiotically arid and with little in the way of ultimate significance.
Of course a lot of this is driven by the gallery and dealer system which has commoditised art away from it’s potential, towards being a reflection of the prevailing western neo-liberal socio-economic system. Pure capital in visual form.
In this sense the art we are getting is a true reflection of society. Indifferent dealers who sell stuff they can sell but not what they love, artists desperate to fit the market slot and no inherent worth in anything unless it can be commoditised. In that sense the art we see around us is successful in that art is after all, born of its context and it certainly reflects the culture.
I do think my work is different. It’s been shown, but not as much as it ought to have been. But yet it tells a story of death and recovery. It uses art-language to enhance that feeling, to enrich the emotional truth and connect to our deepest feelings and, I know from people’s actual responses to it, that it does exactly that.
At the last show someone said that one piece showed exactly how he felt when his son died. My work moved him to his core.
How much of what passes for contemporary art in amongst contemporary dealer and gallery art makes people cry or feel absolute joy?
What a culture we have created.