Friday, May 04, 2007
A fellow artist and blogger took me to task – albeit politely – for what he termed the 'unfinished' look of my recent work: "...What bugs me is that, as one artist looking at another's work, her current style just looks too easy."Which is not to suggest it is easy at all. It just looks that way. It looks like experimental works ripped out of her visual diary and called 'finished art'. They look like paintings still in the planning stages."Ordinarily I'd go for her more expressive style in other lesser known artists. Usually this style is a break from the monotony of landscapes and rural settings I see in the various regional community galleries. Someone who isn't inspired by yet another tree with sheep grazing in the distance. However Hazel is something of an Australian icon. Perhaps I expect to see something more... 'crafted'."Such criticism reminds me of Woody Allen's self-mocking line from his script for Stardust Memories: "I prefer his early films, especially the funny ones". People prefer my early work, especially the big, colourful ones. No-one ever accuses them of looking 'unfinished'. They have a flawless, almost industrial sheen and the sort of immediate, sexy curb appeal that looks good in a gallery window and arrests the attention of passing trade. However, last year, I set out to tear their hard, shiny, enameled surfaces aside to reveal what was underneath: it is exactly the point that my recent work should look as if they were "ripped out of [my] visual diary and called 'finished art'." Leaving aside arguments about the relevance and value of traditional artisan skills – just for the moment, because I'd like to come back to them another time – let alone about at what point a painting should be regarded as 'finished', what I'm really reacting against in my recent work is the post-modern notion embraced by many conceptual artists that the intimate, the subjective, the self-expressive has no place in art. The last thing I want is to refine or 'over-produce' my work. I want it to retain a improvisatory rawness, a few abrasive grains of emotional truth, that are as discomforting – and as unresolved – as real life.