Running on from, and building upon Sacred, and giving you an insight to my practical work.
I’m going to argue that art should be quiet. Art is visual, not acoustic or literary, (but it is not the connection to language of which I am considering.) Art is at it’s best when it’s silent, and when it’s silencing. Then it is sacred. It is best like this because it goes into the realms of the spiritual. Contemporary artist Michael Raedecker has said that, “by whispering you spread the message much better.” It is not speed he expresses, but is the participants’ willingness to listen. Rachel Whiteread’s comment about her work also provide a link between the two – through a quietness found in death, and in space…in emptiness – her ideas and her instillations are poetic, they are quietening as she successfully “mummif[ies] a sense of silence in a room…”
Considering some of the works that we as a society define as masterpieces - so many can be ushered into this quietness, and this spirituality. Kenneth Clark highlights this in his essay What is a Masterpiece, exemplifying with worthy works of craftsmanship – Donatello’s Annunciation; Dead Christ by Mantegna; and a couple of personal favourites: Descent from the Cross by Roger Van Der Weyden, and by Rubens also. These are emotionally engaging pieces, they are, as Clark stated, highly impacting on people and this is the only way a masterpiece can really be measured. It is true also, that not only do all these examples narrate a moment of silence – they are quietly dramatic – but they tell of sacred moments.
My aim in the work I am creating at the moment is utterly counter-modern. In my untitled Final Major Project, my intent is to indirectly, and happily consequently, create spirituality in my art attributed to a quiet, meditative quality. In my statement, I quoted Renoir: “For me a picture should be a pleasant thing, joyful and pretty... There are quite enough unpleasant things in life without the need to manufacture more.” This has not recently been the reaction to the ‘unpleasant things’ Renoir talks of in this world. Most of our modern art has come out of a reaction of dissatisfaction and desperation to escape. Yet, I feel compelled only to create pleasant work – which meditates on the beauty of creation in people (through portraiture.) Meditation is to concentrate on the mundane in order to distract and disengage your mind – it is a form of escapism from reality. It is the entering into a personal reality.
I believe I have a style, which begins to work with these ideas, and that is my obsession with the unfinished. I know I often lack the daring character of the arrogant artist (that which would make me modern). I am cautious; pensive; heavily analytical and self-critical. I will stop and consider. I will get to a point where I am satisfied enough by what I’ve stimulated visually and then in fear I will probably not continue. But I look at this trait more positively than I have worded, because I see potential. It is better for it to be good and the onlooker to believe it could be even greater, than to take an exploration too far and for something good to become rubbish and later dismissed. I am: a perfectionist; and counter-modern: I recognize that most modern (successful) artists are arrogant. They will explore boldly - not in angst of what they cannot take back.
I am building this into my distinctive style. I feel it would be denying of myself to ignore or altar this aspect of the work I am creating. My concerns have by this method, become tainted by emptiness – by a predominance of negative space. A spiritual purity, and blankness. That bittersweet partnership of fear, and of excitement in possibilities in the remaining untouched canvas. It is where I started, and it’s where I finish – with an expectancy of more.
‘Ghost’ 1990 by Rachel Whiteread
‘Occluded’ 1997 by Michael Raedecker