Monday, 10 March 2014

Text and Image as Biographical Image

Assuming the traditional rules of image construction involve definitions or values associated with: Colour, Form, Texture, Line, Narrative, Composition, Emotional response, psychological response, all or some of which the artist might use in producing a painting, then these rules appear to be skewed, or are insignificant, when considering Conceptual art.  There is a distinct rupture from the traditional art view, a step away from accepted sense perception ways of observing art to give pleasure. The word I prefer to use  in place of "pleasure" is for something to be "rewarding" as it avoids the issue of distinguishing between something being beautiful or ugly. Either of these two judgements can be represented by the word "rewarding" but getting pleasure from something that is ugly might be stretching a point.  It might be argued that because the written word can only present itself the message is obvious, if there are other interpretations to be surmised then they are subtle because they require explanation The polarity of the suggestion 'Is there a blatant or subtle message' does not leave room for the middle ground. which may well disclose something interesting.

If I consider the work Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat: it is black and white without dimension or shading, there is no created form, merely the static presentation of letters and words, texture does not seem to be involved, occasionally line might be relevant, the only narrative, is the personal expression of jumbled thoughts which are jotted down as one might write a shopping list. Composition or arrangement must presumably be thought about in placing the text, but I suspect they are random.  The only response is intellectual and even that is obscure. It seems to me that what one viewer might consider poetry is a jumble of doodles to another.  It is not possible to intuit meaning, no objective values with which to judge the merit of such a work, so without that I feel it is valid to say that in subjective terms I see little worth in it, as art.   It may interest a psychologist wishing to understand the persona or motivation of someone producing such ramblings but to my mind it is questionable as art.  From a visual perspective, it is unaffecting, I do not respond to it, it requires explanation.  Despsite all this I can see that expressions of ideas which have personal meaning and are relevant as a means of identity might be valid through a kind of individual list of word associations. In some ways it is a rather pruriant process, because of what might unwittingly be expressed through the sub-conscious, but this could also be argued against other styles of working. The comments I made in Appropriated Text and Images regarding "Celebrity" could also apply to Jean-Michel's work except that in his case it could be seen as a personal portrait in words so it may have validity on those grounds,  not as an art form but as an idea.

Tracy Emin's bed gives us an intensely personal view of her life that probably could not easily be presented in a more succinct way.  Some people see it as moving, I wouldn't go that far, but it is honest. I suppose if I presented the contents of the cupboard under my sink, or my wardrobe, it would be a similar revelation, the reality of what is personal to me without censorship.  It is akin to observing people in their conditions be those conditions harsh and wearing or bright and beautiful.  The painting of Courbet's stonebreakers comes to mind, except that the bed is in close contact with the body and therefore has all sorts of other implied interpretations. It might, for instance, be considered erotic.  Courbet's painting tells us more about social issues of the day, as well as practical ones. Tracy Emin's bed is something tangible presented to the viewer which could be taken as art whereas Basquiat's work remains doubtful. My argument could fall down here as he also presents something, it has some kind of value but in perceptive terms it does not have the same appeal as the bed, the latter almost being sculpture in the traditional sense, but the former is not really near to a painting in the traditional sense.

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