Not into Art
10 Jul '17 — Fake liking something for over a decade
The best thing about getting older is figuring myself out. Particularly finding out who I am. In the past, I've determined the answer based on what I like or dislike. But then it becomes hard to tell the difference: do I like something because it infers that I'm a type of person? Or do I really like that thing?
Last night, while driving back to the city, we rode through tree lined country roads that ran across rolling fields of grains. I was taking in the colors at dusk, tree silhouettes, the open sky, when I realized that my most favorite works of art are similar in the way they make me feel.
The works I have in mind are timeless to me. I realized yesterday they're timeless because of their ability to mimic nature. Not many artists can. Everyone has their reasons for enjoying art, and I hadn't know why specifically I find art worthwhile.
Agnes Martin with her colors, simple geometry and spacing remind me of the expanse I feel when I'm out in farmland. The skies turn pink and yellow, warm shades similar to the ones in her paintings.
Michelangelo's pieta is fascinating because he can make human flesh from something as hard as marble. What I'm marveling are essences that exist naturally. I enjoy them inside or outside the confines of a gallery, but in a gallery, amongst so many things that are varying degrees of closeness to nature, it's amazing to come across a work that makes me feel like I'm standing in the midst of a fresh summer breeze.
For over a decade, I thought I was into art. I thought there was merit to the 'intellectual debate', especially the topics and feelings represented in contemporary art. I felt smart talking to people about my impressions, but little did I realize, my thoughts were confined to topics that were heavily promoted. My first exposure to these discussions was when The Holy Virgin Mary was exhibited. A painting of the virgin Mary is made from elephant dung and scraps of porn. There was much discussion about religion and a ton of outrage towards the painting--which was what probably contributed to it's value of over two million pounds. Another famous contemporary artist I've come across is Anselm Kiefer. He never stops reflecting on his 'German heritage', the conflict of being part of people who were responsible for what happened in WWII and how that tendency might be living within him.
Is it that intellectual? In both cases, there are two concepts that are artificial. The idea of a Virgin Mary and the idea of a 'German heritage'. No animals in nature are conflicted by these two ideas. No species other than humans are affected.
I don't like to divide humans from nature, because we are part of it. Everything we do is natural, part of the behavior of our species. But I do believe in the idea of work driven by ego and work driven by a less restricted force, something more innate and natural. One strives and is constantly seeking to be relevant in a very specific way, and it's implications are very narrow minded while the other, goes with the flow.
The most famous contemporary artworks all make a strong point. Damien Hirst's shocking works are made to provoke just as Jeff Koons works provoke in different ways.
Ego is a force that naturally exists in the world. The desire to make a mark has does have a place. However, I feel that a too much of my world has been driven by ego. I haven't been able to step back from promoting my significance to have 'who I am' naturally revealed.
Spending all my time to figure out what I like has been a lot of work. It's constantly about making a note to everyone: stereotype me "this way".
In liking art, particularly contemporary art, I mark my place in the world. I represent someone who is into the creative field, open to ideas that are abstract and thought provoking. By performing outward behaviors that show I like art, going to gallery openings and talking about popular artworks, I am trying to get credit for being open to ideas, intellectual, without doing much work. I don't actually have to be open to new ideas, I don't have to think as long as I represent myself as one who likes art, an encompassing topic that gives me credit for both these traits.
I can now say "I am not an art enthusiast". I like certain pieces, but overall, there are more things in life that I enjoy. Hiking, being in nature, cooking and writing enthrall me in ways I don't need others to know. I don't need anyone to know I'm involved in these activities for me to feel fulfilled with them.
On a trip to Venice a few years back, I vowed I'd return for the art biennial. I'd gone during an off year but I thought it would be important as an art enthusiast to attend such an event. As time moved forward, I realized I couldn't care less. It feels good to have less to do.