Thursday, October 11, 2007

thoughts on style

so yesterday was unproductive, artistically. i did have a meeting last night with stella perkins and zack smithey, two saint charles artists with whom i share a great ambition to become better artists. stella's greatest work, in my opinion, is her ability to convey femininity without a hint of the weakness that society has tended to place upon it. she excels, especially, in woodcuts. she can show the strength of being a women without the appearance of being a victim of a male-dominated culture, while at the same time allowing her figures to have grace and beauty.
zack seems to be a budding renaissance man, running the gambit from sculptural to textural and painting, crossing borders and never seeming to adhere to a particular style for too long. both artists have great ideas and we have decided to collaborate on work for a while, doing group shows and working on an installation that, if achieved, will be a full experience for the viewers but more-so for us as artists. i would like to touch on style for a moment and it's place in contemporary art.
style is both a doorway and a trapdoor at the same time, especially in a consumerist society that seems to be more impressed by logos and branding than by process or product. an artist gains notoriety for having a particular style, or a unique spin on the current trends in art and culture, but after a period of time, that style becomes passe and spent, and the work is said to repeat itself. now, there have been artists whose entire career was used on this notion. warhol for example used repetition and plagiarism as a form of art, which, in his time, was a valid commentary on the art world. he seemed to have been playing a joke on high society. the punchline was a bullet from a radical protege and popularity that led to a patriarch with warhol himself on the throne. am i saying that at a point warhol ceased to create art and started creating product? yes and no. yes he created product, but in a product based society, wouldn't the creation and mass reproduction of a product be art. is art a reflection of it's surroundings or is it the maker of it's own bed?

another example that comes to mind is motherwell, i.e. elegies to the spanish republic. for forty some years, motherwell used the same motif, more or less, and created 170 plus pictures with the title "elegy to the spanish republic. did he get locked in a movement of his own hand that led to this repitition? maybe he felt he never quite achieved the perfect composition. relying partially on chance, by use of large expressive brush strokes, allowing the drip to be used, and left to the mercy of his media, motherwell exhausted himself on the idea of large black formations, similar in aesthetics to sumi art of the orient. i don't think i have ever heard or read in any criticism that motherwell was a has-been for repainting the same picture. however, that seems to be a buzz word in contemporary circles.

as an unknown artist, still struggling to develop a voice of my own, i am constantly at battle over whether or not the current picture resembles too much of the later work. i seem to hinder my own output by questioning the brushstrokes. i hate this part of the process. i want to be able to simply create without the worries of self critique. argumentatively, i need to be working to build a portfolio so as to achieve higher accolades thereby allowing me the freedom to create more. a constant struggle of ethics, ego, and necessity.

francis bacon, willem de kooning, robert rauschenberg, picasso, diego rivera, all had distinct style to their work. i happen to love their work. why then am i afraid of style?