I have no qualms admitting that I thrive on discussions on Art. A subject that has much to debate on, it is this very basis that makes discourse on this elusive ‘A’ word, that will never quench my thirst.
Art is undoubtedly subjective and it is this quality that instills fear in many who believe there should be a distinct right or wrong, black or white. This grey area confuses and Art makes no apologies for that.
A recent conversation with a colleague about Art gave birth to the idea of this series of blog posts – Art for the Uninitiated. I will not claim to be an expert in Art, but I want to believe Art can be shared and appreciated by all. So in my attempt to unravel the mystery behind this elusive term, these blog posts may serve as a guide to understand and perhaps these casual writings will pave way for discussion.
So to all who shrink at the mere sight of the letters A-R-T, let’s replace this term with something less intimidating. Like, hmm…Cherry. Yes, the fruit – small, fleshy, juicy with a tough seed in its core.
First question, what does one have to see/feel/think when looking at a piece of Art…I mean, Cherry?
Cherries are very visual and it is what the eye perceives that speaks to you.
In this blog post, let us focus on the choice of medium. Whenever an artist has an idea, he selects a medium as his channel to convey these thoughts. Whether it’s a sculpture, painting, a video or installation – it is this medium that houses the artists’ thoughts, ideas and intent.
When one thinks of the Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa, you picture a brooding woman – unsmiling yet sitting calm and poised against a vast landscape. She exudes an aura of mystery and the viewers get the sense that she’s aloof.
The choice of medium – oil paints – was telling of the period she lived in. During the Italian Renaissance, only figures of wealth and status had the privilege of having their portraits done. Mona Lisa was painted between years 1503 – 1506 and artists of the time relied heavily on oil paints to portray objects/subjects as realistically and life-like as possible. Though this painting has been subjected to much scrutiny and parody, there’s no denying that she has become an icon of popular culture. Is it her enigmatic smile or her lack of eyebrows? That mystery is wrapped under the layers of oil paint applied by Da Vinci.
Taking a look at contemporary times, quasi-anonymous English grafitti artist, Banksy, expresses his ideas that spill through walls of urban Bristol, UK. Graffiti or Street art, as its name states, is developed along the streets under the public eye. Unlike a painting hung against the white walls of an art gallery, graffiti is unrestrained by an ornate frame and its meaning is usually dependent on the location it resides on – or otherwise known as site-specific art (but that’s another blog post another day!).
Banksy’s works have been deemed sociopolitical with a twist. Relying on stencils, many of his pieces were completed in the dead of the night, only to shock passerbys the next day at the sheer size of his works plastered along the walls. Because his works usually touch a raw nerve with his viewers, it’s only apt that his stencil works take on the streets – blatant and to the point, allowing much public scrutiny and criticism.
At the end of the day, there is no one choice of medium that reigns supreme – each artist has an agenda and he seeks to portray this in its most ideal form. Can one compare Da Vinci to Banksy and challenge whose works are better? Their horde of cherries may speak of different things and appeal to different people. Da Vinci’s cherries can be ripe and choked with sweetness; others may think it’s too sugary for their liking and go for something sourer like Banksy. But who’s right and who’s wrong?
So have you had your dose of cherries today?