Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Celebration of Color

Soph Laugh
Acrylic on Canvas, 24x24
Private Collection

I have just recently entered my first art contest with the Drawing Academy. My entry, titled: A Celebration of Color, is actually a happy pattern of reversal - a colorblind artist expressing themselves in a vibrant, colorful juxtaposition of color. How these colors speak to the viewer, I cannot say, for I am that colorblind artist. Thus, I must invoke my imagination to conceive of concepts my eyes do not convey for me. 

This pattern of reversal is a founding principle behind the artwork. Even a color-sighted person must imagine what the juxtaposition of lines, circles, and splashes of color mean to another person. In this imagining, it is as if a reversal of thought is taking place, a presupposition of what another sees and feels and interprets based on what is seen, felt, and interpreted within. Does the viewer see what the artist saw? How do art critics define art when it is so highly predicated upon subjective interpretation? Is it the way the paint is spattered on the canvas? Should the paint be smooth and free of unintentional marks or blemishes or should the paint be bold and impasto'd in way that the shapes the paint creates are geometrically pleasing to the eyes? Should a painting incorporate elements from the masters? Should it have an underpainting? Should it be clean and pristine and yet spontaneously executed? Should the artist's care and precision be visible, thus inferring purpose and intention? All these questions and more cross the mind of the artist, the viewer, and the critic, and lead to a dramatic disunity of opinion as to the structure and tone, crudeness and folly associated with art production. 

Viewing art is as much about examining the life of the artist and what led to the artwork's production as it is about the medium. While skill, dexterity, and vision are most certainly a major factor in determining the worth of a piece of art, what collectors seek is a sentiment that speaks to them. A bridge that connects beauty to the individual appreciating it. The themes of fortune, pride, or adversity come into play in the aesthetic appreciation of art. Behind the striking quality of any given piece of art is the successful conveyance of an overtone that speaks for what would otherwise be a mute object of worth. Overall, the artwork must reveal an indecision and tentativeness on the part of the artist. How can I convey what I see? ...and then show it, is the pattern viewers seek to follow. And when they find it, that is the moment when the artwork speaks to them. That is when a viewer says, "I get it" or "I feel the same way" or "Wow! I never thought of it that way" (whatever "it" is). 

Art is taking a lack of unity such as subjective opinion and showing its light and dark contrasts, its intellectual sense of seriousness and potential, and its emotionally driven dramatic flare that ignites a sensation in the heart, stomach and mind of the viewer. Art is a source of dramatic excitement, tension, a way of intellectually investigating patterns that are not based so much on predictability but on contrast, irony, multi-layered inversion, and pleasing, or sometimes disturbing, concepts. 

Unifying the minds of the viewer to the artist cannot guarantee an aesthetic success story. If the artwork lacks a unified tone, fails to appeal to the aesthetic appreciation of the art critic, or if the piece is flat and leads to disinterest, it becomes a typical deus ex machina, moving the story of the piece forward by the artist painting themselves into a corner. With no other way out, an artist finishes off the piece and Voilá! the painting comes comes to a happy ending. This convention of Greek tragedy is present in many pieces of artwork that employ similar resolutions. But the piece that manages to spare the life of the artist is the one in which the artist gives up something personal, conveys something they would otherwise keep silent just so that others might know it through their aesthetic efforts. It is this sharing of something new or something entirely personal that elevates a piece of artwork to a masterpiece, irrespective of how the paint is applied onto the canvas. 

The aesthetic discomfort I feel in using color is the experience I had, as an artist, in crafting this piece of artwork. It is this added degree of unexpected, uncomfortable, reversed, and perhaps, paradoxical detail that makes my artwork's story familiar. I'm not suggesting that there are many colorblind artist, but rather acknowledging that I do have this impediment. But despite this impediment, or maybe because of it, I am determined to participate in the experience of art. And more personally, in the experience of color. 

Art allows one to experiment fully with a language for the purpose of finding freedom in expression, a principle of unity in how we convey an unsettling thought or experience before an audience. Showing one's art to an audience can feel similar to that dream we've all had... you know the dream, the one when you get to work or school or stand up at a podium to speak only to discover you're not fully clothed! 

It is precisely this nature of triumph despite tragedy that is so very beautiful in our aesthetic consciousness, a consciousness that substitutes itself for moral consciousness, something that ultimately defines the dramatic illusion, detaching the audience from the character, thus making it possible to experience the parodic dimension of the moment of the artist for oneself. 

Artists are artistically self-conscious characters who contend with reality by creating visual images and by engaging an audience in a symbolic or ritualistic action that relates both to role-playing and role-acting. The result of this highly developed aesthetic consciousness is a cast of characters who define their existence through art. 

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