Tuesday 11 December 2012

What speaks to us?

I attended three different opening nights late last month, each different, both in atmosphere and genre of work.  On Wednesday November the 28th NSC (Neubacher Shor Contemporary) had an opening featuring photography from Arline Malakian and sculptures from Dennis Lin. Thursday was a swing in the opposite direction with traditional realistic landscape work form a Newfoundland artist at Open Architect Inc, Friday finished the triangle with a Sci Fi themed show that consisted of 70 artists, including myself.

Each experience in life brings different questions to mind, and this art bonanza bought back a question that I always repeat, what makes good art?  How you assess art is a very open and subjective topic where everyone has their own take.  Whether individuals are experts in art or just enjoy its thought provoking qualities, we all respond and react to what speaks to us.  However, there must be a common thread that draws us to visual arts.

What spoke to me the most was the sculptures by Dennis Lin at NSC. I loved the contrast between the materials used and the forms created, particularly the ones on the wall (see example below).  His use of organic lines set against the strong shinny metal drew me in immediately.  His work is my favourite in that there was subtle intention when the work was created, which allows for the viewer to have their own take on it.  His strengths are definitely scale, line, shape and form along with contrast of technique and materials. After looking at his extensive collection I to hope to take my own work to such great scale and intensity.

The Sci Fi show on Friday exhibited a continuum of ability equal in technique and subject matter.  I found some pieces with very strong colour and texture while others had strong composition yet lacked clear colours, I know too well that over mixing colours makes them muddy and takes away from a potential master piece.  
The use of line and value by Arzu, was technically amazing and many were found staring at it for some time.  However, it was the emotion emitted from the piece that spoke to me and cannot be placed into an element or principal box.

'Transmission' by Arzu and detail

Another key feature to a solid work of art is a strong focal point, whether it’s a sculpture, dance piece or painting, a focal point draws in the viewer to take a second look.  I am currently experimenting with making my focal point and composition stronger because of this importance; I want to draw the viewer into the deeper meaning of my pieces to provoke thorough discussion.

A good work of art must balance both the elements and principals of art, by either following them, or breaking them in a creative way.  The work being visually pleasing is only half of it; I prefer work that has a context and underlying message. Having a subtle message that can be inferred is preferable because it creates an open dialog for your audience including them in universal messages that we can all connect to on some level.

My views on art always grow and change as my own work develops and I look forward to further examining what makes some art more appealing and stronger than others, with further research I also hope to discover more about how our emotions play a role in our responses to art. 

What are your theories on what make a powerful piece of art?  I would love to hear it, any feedback is welcome.

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