The Nature Of Art As We Stand.
The art world has constantly remained an amusing fascination for the voyeuristic individual who seeks to derive
momentary escapism from the artist’s work. The role of the artist and the nature of their creations has been a
contentious topic of debate throughout history and will no doubt continue as an unresolved frenzy of opinions.
From Wilde’s observations that Jesus epitomises the true nature of the artist to modern day politicians introducing
legislation to suppress ‘vandalism’ acts of graffiti, art has firmly retained its unique and defining characteristic; it wholly
depends on perception.
It is this enshrined principle of perception which not only categorises what constitutes art but also determines who is
the artist. Our present day notions of an ‘artist’ are as diverse and complicated as they have ever been. An artist is one
who has received education in his field at the highest level and lives, breathes and dies for his art. An artist is anyone
who displays freedom of expression through any available medium. This is representative of a gradual evolvement in
opinion from the days of the Ancient Greeks when it was believed that all artwork must be an imitation of something. Art
being definitive of imitation has now transcended into art being about perception.
The derogatory opinions which have surrounded modern art are slowly becoming a catalyst which turns the pauper
artist into an eccentric king. Although heavily berated by the general public, shock art has amassed its fortunes and spat
its name on art history. And of course, not without the paternal supportive back pocket of Mr Charles Saatchi. People
shall look back in years to come and realise how wondrous it was for an art buyer to change the direction of
contemporary British art. Forever. Making an impact perhaps even more so than the very artists he champions.
The main issue which encapsulates these controversial artists is again, the audience’s perceptions of their work. As
one who used to favour traditional art in the sense of paintbrushes, an easel and years of dedication to a single
painting, I was one who would hesitate at labelling the controversial, ‘art.’ However if I adopted this opinion I would be on
the verge of destroying everything I am trying to create here. For art is all encompassing and cannot be compared. A
graffiti tag and a Manet painting should not be condemned or condoned. For whatever label people wish to stamp on
them, they are both forms of expression and it is the intention behind the expression that should be contemplated and
not the expression of the intention.
This of course relates to the many mediums of art which certainly overlap. However, most people are under the
misguided impression that these sub-art categories must be distinct. At the times of Plato and Aristotle, art was
conceived as any practice that required skill. Thus even medicine and the sciences were regarded as art. A musician
friend of mine recently complained to me that he wanted to be respected as an artist foremost and then a musician.
Although the creator of successful and acclaimed songs, his ambition fulfilled would be to have poetry published.
During this discussion I advised my friend that he has already accomplished what he feels he has not. For his lyrics are
poems that have been intricately sewn together with music. Each album sleeve containing his lyrics is a written
testament to his poetic abilities.
This leads to another important characteristic of art; the artist’s passion. For me, when deciding whether something
avant-garde or archaic deserves to be congratulated as ‘worthy,’ whether looking at an exhibition or listening to a band, I
must try and determine the artist’s passion. This alone either speaks out to me and rises through and above his work,
or fails to materialise through his outlet of choice. We must remember that each time we rejoice at a piece of music or
contemplate a lyric, we have made a judgement and are acting in accordance with it. This must be remembered when
the urge to rape an artist’s work savages the mind. For some are allowing us to enter their souls and we must strive to
preserve and refrain from corrupting.