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Creative or Simply Clever?

Art is language. A means of communication by which the artist tried to convey their meaning and intent through presentation of sensual elements. The elements chosen to express the meaning and intent of the artist, are the structure of the attempt at communication. They are not analogous to words, sentences or even paragraphs because words are more constrained and restrictive. Each word is a finite container incapable of the expressing the wide range of meanings, feelings or even thoughts.  The elements of an art piece chosen by the artist can express so much more. A single element of an art piece can express an entire logos.

The success of this communication by an artist is representative of his talent. His / Her choice of those elements and their ability to combine those elements in a manner that makes the intent perceivable. But more than that, the talent of the artist should entice and encourage the viewer to strive to understand the meaning or logos of the piece.

We all have experienced seeing a beautiful piece of artwork that makes us stop and look by the sheer beauty of it. And we spend a few seconds looking and admiring the talent of the artist then we go on. But it never made us think about what the artist was trying to get us to understand.  And at other times we have come across other art that was perhaps a simple pencil drawing and it didn’t make us light up at the sight of it but just looking at it provoked a thought and we began to think about what it was the piece was saying to us and we went away with a new thought to toss around.

I think that this is one of the reasons poetry is one of the most difficult forms of artistry. Trying to use words to paint emotions and meanings on paper. Attempting to use finite words to bring the infinite to their readers is a monumental task and to do it effectively requires consummate talent.

Every artist understands this concept at some primal level. It is also why we feel the need to paint, sculpt, write, create photographs or whatever our chosen medium is, we HAVE to do it! It isn’t that we want to, we MUST; even when we don’t want to. Many of us suffer because if this need this addiction that won’t let us alone. The need to express our thoughts and feelings and yes even our opinions through our art is a primal need for an artist.

BUT foremost, we must have something to say.  And having something to say we must use our talent to communicate the logos of what it is we need to say. Words fail most of us, except the poets perhaps, so we use what we can and what we know of our skills and medium, to say it. What we have to say doesn’t have to be a political statement or a tirade against some social evil. It can be simply a snippet of a story or to point out the beauty of a pattern or scene. Maybe to give a glimpse into the wonder of a young persons life. A shared reality to bring understanding and sympathy. But it always says something.

Freedom to Grow.jpg (From the Umbrella Revolution – 2016 all rights reserved world wide.)

In my opinion, this is what makes the difference between those who are talented as artists and those who pass themselves off as talented but are merely clever. This is not to say those who are knowledgeable and have great skill and experience in say woodworking or pottery, or even painting, for example are not of great worth or value. Within these forms of industry are great artist who use the medium to express what they have to say, very effectively and with such talent. But the one who makes chairs over and over again or throws plates and bowls and pots over and over again or paints the same painting over and over, are not expressing themselves as artist they are merely clever in their industry. It is mundane and banal. They are not saying anything.

When I go to art openings and galleries to view the art (there is a difference between “looking” and “viewing” art) so much of what I see in the new offerings is centered on talent and not on the meaning. The artists seem to be enamored with their own abilities and not on the purpose of their art. They have great talent but they are merely using it in a clever way. It doesn’t say anything but “Hey! Look at what I can do!” . The modern collectors are eating this stuff up.

Andy Warhol understood this. Most people think of him as a graphic designer, an artist who invented “Pop Art”. But most people today don’t understand that he was saying something in his art. He was communicating that he saw a relationship between art, celebrity and commercialism. He was trying to help us see what he saw. And because his talent made the viewers of his era see it he became successful as an artist. He was emulated by many and still is today. But most emulators are merely clever and have nothing to say through their craft. They simply want to use his style but not his artistic voice and they have none of their own.

Others have been trying so hard to say something through their art that they have created monstrosities of garish and over saturated distortions, repeating the same old, tired philosophies and angry politico-social drivel. Somehow these artists have gotten the impression that if they are grotesque enough, or dark, or colorful enough that this legitimizes what they make. They think this will make them popular with critics, collectors and other artists but they do not really have anything new or original to say. Not having an original thought of their own to make original art.

But in contrast I see new artists emerging who have plenty to say and are using their art to say it in such a way that their viewers “get it”! It’s not just the same ol’ same. It’s new ways to say new things. They are evoking feelings and emotions along with the thoughts expressed and combining them into a “logos”. A complete and coherent meaning that allows the viewer to understand the artist’s intent and provokes thoughts of their own. These artists are creating art to have a voice that communicates with the viewer. They have something to say not just something to repeat!

The Same Old Question.

A age old question is being asked again about a new art medium.  The question is “Is that a valid art medium?” and it’s corollary,…”If you do it this way, are you an artist?”. Follow this link to get the views of many other people, mainly artists of one sort or another (including me)…. https://www.facebook.com/Richard.L.Hayes.Photography/posts/1119506528108256?notif_t=like&notif_id=1466095555803731

Beautiful Fire Rose set in a black background. The rose is digitally hand painted from an original photograph.
Beautiful Fire Rose set in a black background. The rose is digitally hand painted from an original photograph.

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Self-PortraitHuzzah, Huzzah!

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 Richard Hayes

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