ShawN shawN • Great question Girum. I believe strongly in my personal art that a painting should tell a story about the environment the artist is living in: socially, culturally, politically and artistically. Generally, in my work I have two styles: purely abstract and political conceptual work. My abstracts are merely playing around with the paint and technique and then later assigning a title I think captures the unknown subconscious in this type of painting. In my other style, I have a concrete idea and event I am depicting, so I incorporate symbology, numerology, political context and symbolic colors into the work. I think this type of work will out last more simplistic work done to just please the eyes.
Now, how about the question in a broad sense of all artists, what is the meaning? Well, each artist has his/her own take on how to create that work and why. I find many artists are constricted in their day jobs and use art to escape the confines of corporate compromise with absolute freedom in their work. Now, is that a commentary on the work? Maybe… but I feel an artist should incorporate that work into their art to make it more relevant to society and understanding of the artist himself/herself. For example, Warhol worked for years in commercial advertising, so his first break with the Campbell’s soupcan and later Brillo plays up this experience and reframes ads as fine art. That is ground breaking and relevant to the artist background, so it becomes historically relevant. Another example is “Nude Descending a Staircase” by Marchel Duchamp. It is a direct reaction to the development of photography and then cinema, which again reframes new art back into historical painting. This was ground-breaking and became historically relevant in art development.
To rephrase, if an artist wants to be known as ground-breaking and historically relevant, his/her art needs to have the commentary on society, politics and be a new version of art at the same time. Many times this is rejected at first, which is a sign you are actually producing new art vs. regurgatating an older style. Of course, when an artist is looking to make money, sometimes producing the gallery art that sells is more important than breaking new ground for the future.
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