We all know that famous cliche of the artist sitting in his (I made that male-centric on purpose) studio for days, weeks, years to no end. Furiously pouring out master pieces that evoke the questions deep within us we dare not expose for they may spiral us all into a never-ending whirlpool of existential doubt. The artist who survives solely on booze, drugs and a sense of self satisfaction. An artist who with out being social has the ability to pull out a mirror and glare it in the face of society. There is no stopping this artist, he is a one man factory of cultural desirabilities. everything that he leaves a mark on is some how turned to gold, think a scribble by Picasso, a rogue spray of paint by Pollock, a drop of blood from the ear of Van Gough. We all know the Artist who is hyper aware of everything they do. Every interaction becomes an opportunity for an enlightenment. the wardrobe is full of black skivvees and single malt is the only whiskey to drink, every other whiskey is a symbol of oppression. Hyper aware and overly intellectual. But what the mark of an artist?
There is no doubt that along with any creative field there is an argument that an obsessive (whether that be retentive or addictive) personality may be the shadow that follows and in some cases jumping the fence into mental illness. But what about the Ponderer, in such a complicated world with so many varied ways of communicating isn't it the job of the artist to concisely fabricate a work that transcends the vague terms of art wank to communicate vital information to the soul that are not open to interpretation because the thought behind each action is beyond (yet explainable) the comprehension of its viewer.
I personally have a strong respect for both sides but each has a different perspective. The first artist, lets call him John the reclusive genius. It would be arrogant to think that his disconnection to society has allowed John to perfectly gain perspective and in turn rise above his audience who allow him to dissect and display their intricacies and anxieties in some grand gesture of a work. Although that may happen my argument is that its Johns failed attempts to assimilate into society is what creates the inspiration, yet his audience (us) are not willing to accept him untill he has some tangible product (in a physical sense) to market as to why he acts in the socially unacceptable manner that he does. He needs to abstract and muffle his own experience and repackage it to be palatable, Think the poet who has written the greatest poem to mankind yet knows more people will be reached if he jams it into a 3 minute pop song. The audience needs a linear story, something to tell over the dinner table. Yet Johns art has become somewhat of a therapy for him, both giving him a door-way back into the world that rejected him and soothing his tortured soul by expressing all those feelings he could not put into words because now... He doesn't have to, and his audience would not dare question his genius.
On the other side of the coin is the Philosopher, let's call him Leo. Leo sits in his chair staring at the blank canvas infront of him, sifting through the fabric of human existence, floating above the minds of his audience for days on end, asking questions and answering those questions with bigger even more profound questions. He is well known as an academic and a thinker, therefore his work must be profound and whatever the audience may feel from it is surely only scratching the surface of the years of thought and intention put into every stroke. Therefore his audience marvels at the big words used in his artist statement and later tries to regurgitate them on the shoulders of people they want to impress, This is the only work he has made for 3 years and now it hangs in front of them. He descends the staircase of academia to swan around the peasants and they, once again would not dare question his genius.
There is problems here. The illusion of some intellectual power dynamic. the very nature of art in my mind is to communicate (a complex idea in a simple way) to escape (to act as therapy for both the artist and the audience) and finally to investigate (to ask questions about our own place in the world and universe) in both cases of Leo and John the audience is left to scared to question because of a forced power dynamic handed down by the middle men of the art world to sell work because they themselves didn't have the time intellectually to deconstruct the work and perpetuate the "idea" behind it. No instead they slapped a genius stamp on someone and told the audience they were to dumb to understand.
sigh.. the sad thing is, people bought it, people still buy it and people will continue buying it. Please think before you buy let the work investigate ideas you find worthy, help you escape your everyday and communicate something you deem worthy to you, don't buy something because of someones famous.
Now Please enjoy the amazing work of Chong Chen, His series bodies and nature hit me because it creates an immediate association with our impact on the world around us. to often i live in my head this series helped me recognise that.