©2018 by Michael Rowland. 
 

Art for the Blind Or Some Sort of Man-made Structure

November 7, 2018

 

 

(You can find the inspiration for this blog on YouTube 'Eric Zammitt - Breaking Beautiful')

 

 

1.

 

"Art should be visual. It should be able to be experienced as itself without some big back story behind it that is necessary to understand it. If you have to explain the art then it has failed, then maybe it should have been an essay or a book." Eric Zammitt also says, "Visual art must be accessible."

 

By 'accessible' I presume he means 'not ugly or confusing'.

Eric makes beautiful, colourful, abstract Plexiglas sculptures/ mosaics. His process is laborious and expensive.

 

"They are paintings to me," he says.

 

Now I can understand why he would scoff at a pair of socks tossed onto a gallery floor in the name of intellectual art after learning his craft so well and painstakingly creating such aesthetically pleasing things.

Still I couldn't help but respond to his sentiment with a "Grow the fuck up!"

 

At the age of 11 we are emersed in literature; poetry, Shakespeare, the classics. We are encouraged/forced to analyse what we read. "What do you think the author was trying to say?"

From the age of 11 we are made aware that many artists will not just 'tell it straight'. We are made aware early on that this must be for a good reason.

Our introduction to visual arts comes soon after. Whenwe are introduced to Picasso and his lady with two eyes on one side of the face we quickly realise the visual artists are probably going to be playing the same tricky game.

 

An analogy may be found in the world of comedy as regards this seeming division of obvious art and obscure art

Benny Hill, for example, may make you laugh when he holds two melons aloft

or else

Monty Python may be the ones to tickle your funny bone by inexplicably repeating the word Spam or Ni!

(Millennials read Mrs Brown's Boys and Stewart Lee. Michael McCintyre and Vic and Bob. Big Bang Theory and Tim & Eric.)

 

There's a fork in this cultural road and it starts when we are 11.

"Can I be arsed with this analysis?" is the question we first ask ourselves.

Those who reply no - Benny

Those who reply yes – Monty

 

„A new study found that just 52% of adults said they read books, while the other 48% said “Durrrrrr…””

Seth Meyers

 

So 'Benny' grows up to be an adult who refuses to put extranious thought into their entertainment.

In contrast 'Monty' grows up, enjoys the occasional riddle, is not afraid of hypothesis and has also asked themself at least once in their life, "Why are we here and what's the point?"

 

Some people don't like the taste of anchovies  and some people HAVE GROWN UP FUCKING TASTE BUDS!

 

To say a piece of art should immediately be able to explain itself is like saying comedians should play a drum roll, raise their eyebrows, clap their hands, stamp their feet then wink at the audience as they deliver their punchline. (See Big Bang Theory or Michael McCintyre).

Well fuck that shit.

 

2.

 

'Width Gradation Hybrid' by Eric Zammitt

 

Imagine this:

 

You must explain to a person who has just lost their sight what a piece of art in a Gallery space looks like.

"It is a pair of white socks on a dusty floor in an empty room."

"There are four large flat collections of multi-coloured strips of Plexiglas hung in a four walled white room."

The person without vision must do the work here. In fact you, as the reader, are doing the same thing.

In essence, you are being forced to do the opposite of the actual viewer.

You are having to imagine the scene with only words as your guide.

When we are the viewer, we very rarely put into words what we are looking at. This in itself can be a very easy and interesting exercise.

As a painter/collage maker,  I often make notes of what I have done, after the fact, to see what the work can tell me. Jessica Serran told me about this. She also makes notes after she has completed a painting as she works through a piece in a similar, instinctive, unquestioning fashion.

Merely putting into words exactly what you see can be very revealing.

Answering the question , "So why did they/I put one pair of socks in an empty, dusty room," is not always as complicated or intellectual as it may at first threaten to be.

Think back to your days when you  struggled to unravel the mysterious gobbledegook of Shakespeare's plays at the age of 11. The teachers did trust that a few of you would be capable of doing it.

 

. Could it be the scene of a murder?

. Could it be a metaphor for a lonely soul?

. Could it, in actual fact, be a piss take?

. Could it be an homage to Dave Lister?

. Could it be related to whatever we might find in the next room?

. Could it be a very elaborate, one hundred-roomed walk-in wardrobe?

. Could it be an illustration from some piece of literature? Could it be Dr Seuss's Fox in Sox without the Fox; an anti-hunting statement?

 

What I am saying is the gallery is the ultimate brain storming, spit balling, use-your-fucking-nonce arena and the only thing stopping the conceptual naysayers from accepting it is the disgruntled 11 year-old inside them.

 

At the age of 21 I visited the galleries of Bruges and Antwerp with an expert in Renaissance painting. I realised something absolutely essential in understanding conceptual art. I had no idea what I was looking at until the historical/cultural context of these images was explained to me. Despite the fact that the images were figurative, classical oil paintings, my understanding of such pictures previous to this invaluable education was next to nought. I could not have been more bored by anything more than by an old painting of something Biblical.

And then boom, I listened to Ron Naylor, read a book or two and I got over myself.

And I am so glad I did, because until then I was just being a lazy wanker.

 

Conclusion:

 

Who has the time to look up things? Who has time to look up whether Trump is lying or not? For example. Who has time to dig below the surface of a Trump tweet, for example, and find out if what he says is complete and utter twaddle? For example. Who has time to ask questions like that?

 

((()))

 

Hope you enjoyed all that. Follow me on Instagram, like me on Facebook and feel free to say 'Hi' to me on either one of those or even on the contact page of this very website.

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I am committed to making this blog as snappy, fun, experimental and accessible as I can. If any of what I post, paint, paste or print resonates with you, please forward to friends and colleagues with wild abandon!

 

 

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