Adding or subtracting?

While I've been subtracting the paint from my painting again today I have been reflecting on something a friend, who is on my degree course, said to me over a cup of coffee yesterday - we were talking about my degree project of destroying/remaking the art work I did 50 years ago, namely 'the painting in the attic', she said that she wished she was a 'conceptual' artist instead of a painter because being a painter was so difficult! (Inferring that my 'conceptual' work was much easier?) Well I was a bit taken aback and rather jokingly thanked her for the 'back handed compliment'.  We laughed about it - but I know what she meant! On the degree course painting is not encouraged and you really have to fight your corner in order to pursue it.  But 'anyone can do that' does seem to be the general opinion about conceptual art. I knew this and it was reinforced while I was invigilating and talking to visitors during BAS 7 at the Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery last year - however I was surprised that another artist/painter felt this way too. Is adding paint to a canvas more difficult than subtracting it? Are techniques prized above ideas? I think craftmanship is terribly important and I hate to see badly presented work but the thinking and researching behind conceptual art can also be arduous and the presentation absolutely key to conveying the message behind the work. It's just not that straightforward. You can be a skillful technician and still not an artist! What do you think? I'm continuing to think about all this..........

Today's scrapings.......... (or (s)crap work!!)


Pandora Gulliver said...

Hi Rosie
Isn't this the eternal conundrum of contemporary fine art? I am a part-time mature Fine Art student in Bournemouth and it's the same at our institution if you want to paint. So I don't, because I'm not good enough to justify doing it, or explain why I should. But I am filled with this sneaky fear that conceptual art lacks real skill and craftsmanship, even though I know from experience how much hard work and mental toil goes into it.
I hate to say it though, but a lot of the highly conceptual work that gets exhibited by students at my Uni is poorly finished and shows a disregard for whatever technique they have 'dipped into' for that particular project. I think this doesn't help the image of conceptual art.
But amongst my group of mature part-timers (about 15 of us) there is a general divide of opinion. Some still pursue the technical skills of painting or printmaking, whilst others are happy to work with ideas and concepts over technique.
I think there is a huge snobbery in the art world over this, but I know I'm just as guilty, and I can't come to terms with the practice of Art without Artisanship.


Dear Rosie, thank you for this post. I love conceptual art and the question "adding or sibtracting" is very interesting for me.♥

Carole said...

The constant unsolvable question.