Saturday, 13 August 2011

A Personal View: Art

Art. A very subjective thing.

A week or so ago, I was attacked (in writing) by an internet troll with too much time on his/her/it's hands. After googling me he/she/it did 'it's' utmost to rip apart and shred everything creative that I have ever done. Now, I don't ever profess to be a fine artist, I just enjoy painting, sewing and creating arty stuff. (If you are interested I have an older, now dormant, blog with all of my paintings etc there - note: it's old. Out of date and a little ugly, but it's my history so I'll leave it in cyber space - )

Do you think that it is right to 'speak with utmost authority' and judge the art of others? A person who only possesses
hand-me-down paper and draws with burnt wood should be equal to the sculptor with a 500,000 budget. We create with what we have and with what we know. True? Or Not?

I did a profile on Michele Batchelder (look on the right and click on 'Profiles' in the Post Cloud there. Now her work is sensual and dream-like - I love it. But there are detailed oil portrait painters who would argue that their attention to detail (eyelashes, skin tone etc) is much harder to do and therefore, better. I disagree. Art is subjective, see?

I have been moved emotionally, while viewing the simplest art. I feel that a true artist evokes a 'feeling' in his/her viewer.
There was a painting that I viewed once at VFC in Pinetown, it was a street scene, oil, approx. 1m x 1m. In the background - dirty brown buildings receded and a group of ominous looking people looked on at the person in the foreground. The artist blurred the group and the background flawlessly giving the illusion of perspective and distance. The person in the foreground was a young Asian girl, her hands grasped at the sides of her head, hair cascading down through clenched fingers, she had her eyes closed and she was shouting. The thing that touched me was that she was not painted yet, just the pencil outline of her was there. Her face, expression etc were all in pencil waiting to be completed. And that was the whole point. She was shouting to be heard, she was incomplete. It broke my heart. I could feel her frustration and anger, her need to be 'finished' and it touched my heart. I have never forgotten that image - it haunted me. So many of us are like that girl.

Another example is our Madiba, Tata Nelson Mandela's line drawings of Robben Island and Table Mountain, so simple and yet, so evocative. They touch the heart.

I think that appreciation of art is a personal matter and those who speak 'with authority' run the risk of demotivating and discouraging expression.

What are your thoughts?

Sandy Bigara

1. Line Drawing sourced from:
2. 'Earthfire' by the marvelous Michele Batchelder.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!


  1. I love this post. I can't believe someone would launch such a personal attack on another person like that 'troll' did to you! Some people... Anyway, I agree with you, art is so personal and we all love different styles which is what makes us unique. I don't believe anyone has the right to judge art, my mother has a framed painting on the wall of our house of some crude flowers in a pot that I painted at the age of 8. I was no child prodigy and when I asked my mom while she keeps it up there she said it was because the pride that I had in that one little painting and the love I put into it and the pride she has in everything I do was worth more than a 'professional' painting. I love to paint but in high school my art marks were so dismal that I was told not to do it as a subject because my cartoonish style was 'incorrect'. If a painting is done with passion and love, then it is a work of art, no matter how 'professional' or famous the painter is.

  2. Nice sentiment, and it is certainly laudable to cherish one's child's work, but to say that art is whatever you want it to be is doing art a disservice. Art is an exploration of what it means to be human, a deconstruction of our existence in an attempt to convey a sense of something beyond words. It can take many many forms and indeed it does. Art is the intention behind it. Kitsch art is not art until it is given meaning, ironic or otherwise. A watercolour of flowers is not art unless there is an intention behind it. Singing karaoke is not art until there is purposeful narrative driving it. Which is not to downplay the importance or value of these things, but to label something art does not art make.
    And we have not even begun to discuss good or bad art, because believe me there is a lot of crappy art out there.
    This should not be seen as discouraging to budding artists, but rather should help them get some direction. Also, any artist who looks only for praise is a fool, because it is the critical voices that will make us better artists.

  3. thank you sandy!
    having been a professional artist most of my life, i have learned that there will be only a portion of the public who will appreciate what or how i choose to paint.... i have always listened to the good, the bad, and the ugly. with the knowledge i have acquired over the years and an open minded approach, i will discuss their opinion and explain my thought process, research i've done and inspiration behind the piece, and usually discover that once my art is understood the opinion of the critic changes if it was a negative one. gratefully, i dont have many of these moments, but i must agree with anonymous that any artist who only seeks praise will never improve or grow their talent.
    one thing i do however feel strongly about, is people who think 'anyone can do abstract art' .... its NOT that simple and yes, i can to draw/paint eyelashes on a beautiful skin tone too, do a landscape or seascape in oils, watercolours or whatever medium presented to me, i just choose not to! i have gone though many stages in my 49 years of painting and strive to improve, grow, and love every moment of every painting i do. i would encourage any budding artist to work hard, paint/draw/create always, but make sure love what they are painting/creating, live the moment and dont ever be discouraged by mindless attacks, they never count for much in the long run. only listen to constructive criticism, good bad or ugly... take from it what you can, and move on!


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