All artists and art lovers in Slovenia are celebrating our National Art Day (translations are always weird in a way), in memory of one of the biggest heroes of the Slovenian language, France Prešeren (translated, he’s name would actually be Francis Happy).
Just a little context for anyone reading who isn’t Slovenian (probably most of you — I am writing in English…) he was a nineteenth century lawyer and poet, whose poetry has been adapted to become our national anthem, so as far as Slovenian culture is concerned, he was a cool dude.
But the point of today’s blunder isn’t a history lesson of some small Slavic country, but to take a moment of your time and to offer a bit of introspection.
Art is only worth as much as the viewers can relate to it. Whatever we create only becomes relevant after the initial question: “Hi, I made this. What do you think?”
While it’s wonderful to enjoy our process and to like talking to other artists and art lovers about philosophy and the meaning of life, it’s really the simple questions that may get overlooked sometimes.
I admit, there are many people in this world who genuinely like to look art paintings and sculptures and just appreciate the ideas behind them. But there are those that don’t.
Be it because they struggle with the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, love and connection and the need to do so never really occurs, or because they have been exposed to the phenomena that is Pretentious Contemporary Art.
And while we artists can do little to help those who are struggling economically, we can do everything for those that have come to believe that art is this banal playpen for grown kids who don’t want to get a “real” job and just play their whole lives without repercussions or responsibilities.
We live in the age of “bad conceptualism”. In the age of everything goes and nothing is beyond banality for it to become Art.
We have even seen banality being propagated in TV shows like The School of Saatchi and there is an abundance of artists like Bill Henson, whose 2008 exhibition showed nude photographs of children and Gregor Schneider’s The beauty in death, where the artist still searches for someone on the brink of death to agree to die on a floor of a gallery as part of his exhibition.
I feel like it is our duty as creatives to help mend the divide that conceptualism has created between many parts of the art world and the broader public.
There is a place for such artists, who might or might not have good and morally legitimate reasons for making such projects — the question of validity of their claims to what they do is for each and everyone of us to decide for ourselves. But I have a strong feeling that people are forgetting the aesthetic value that art can have.
Even a conceptual piece can be beautiful; it can be magical and still present it’s complex system of ideas in an easily understandable way, like Johannes Paul Raether’s Protekto.x.x 188.8.131.52 Precipitation (again, art is subjective, maybe his installation doesn’t work for you at all — I absolutely loved it and for someone who uses iPhones and MacBooks I found it immediately accessible via the guidance that the artist gave to each participant of the show).
My point is simple. Let’s try to make art into something people can and want to enjoy. Let’s stop creating inside jokes in the form of weird conceptual pieces and then pretend to ponder over the fact that no-one except a few of our art buddies and some gallerists get it.
Let’s be genuine and focus on clarity and on communication; more people will get involved with what we do and not only could this boost our sales and help our exposure, it could once again bring fine art closer to the people.
Art should be smart, but it should also be emotional, and we should create such relationships between the viewer and our art. Because let’s face it, no-one wants to be in a relationship with a brilliant autist who is unable to say “I love you”.