8.4.07

More Confessions - Meaning of Art Revisited

This comment from Neda on Fawzan’s first reply:
I fully agree with you: we need to rediscover the meaning of true creativity by steering away from ready-made one-size-fits-all "critical" thinking.

However, I would like you to clarify the position of the artist in all this. On the one hand, I would like my artwork to be fully experienced by the viewer and interpreted by him/her. On the other, I would like to still retain "my voice" in the matter.
(Mains - W.Beydoun©2005)

It is true, we are offering our art for the taking, but I am not sure if we are advocating complete "surrender" of authorship... Can you please elaborate?

This from Fawzan in response:
Hi Neda,
I have to be mindful in my responses that I am addressing a former professor of fine arts.Picasso once said: "A painting comes to me from afar; who knows how far; I divined it, I saw it, I did it, but even so , the next day, I cannot see what I have done myself. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thoughts, which have taken so long to develop and to see the light of day, and comprehend what I have put into it, perhaps even against my will."


It is funny that a representational artist like Homer, and an abstract artist like Picasso should have both been compelled to express similar ideas about interpreting their art.
It seems to me that the position of the artist as creator is very much the bane of all creators. When an artist is satisfied that the art piece is finished, his/her work is done. The art piece itself contains within it the full scope of its meaning. His or her “voice” is in the work. Not beside it. Not a footnote to it.

It is very hard to let go of something that is invested with so much of us, but as Gibran Khalil Gibran says:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you…”

The dialogue that ensues, is one, not between the artist and the viewer, but rather between the viewer and the art piece itself. For the artist, there is a painful reality: The minute viewers begin to interpret or define or explain the artwork, it is subject, in a non-mathematical way of course, to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. It is diminished, or to say it in a colloquial way, it looses so much in translation. If the artist could have said it in any better way or form, he/she would have. Once you put your brush down, or your violin or chisel or pen, you are done. You have transformed an idea, emotion, or thought into art. If you could do more, you would have. When you stop, it is because you have finished. It is because you are satisfied that your work can stand alone now. Let it.

This comment came from Debi at about the same time:
I'll play devil's advocate and speak for the "dummies" (it should be quite easy for me).I think sometimes when a person asks about art, they merely want to know more. True, it's likely they already have their opinion -- and even a beginning inkling of a meaning for them -- but maybe something is preventing them from "getting" it. Or maybe they want to "get" more of it. The heart is willing, but the mind falters.


For example, I'm thinking back to my college Art Appreciation days and Picasso's Guernica. Just seeing it I didn't get it. I felt things, but I was confused by what I felt, and why it was important. Of course, reading the back story on the piece, and even the title itself gave me the clues I needed to open myself up more to appreciation of the work.But some art defies even a simple explanation.

I feel that when I think of Miro, who's work simply delights me, and gives me great joy getting lost in the lines and dots and odd squigglies. I guess some art goes down to a subconscious level and thus wrangles wildly free from conventional explanation. No matter what kind of art, a Cliff Notes version (or even a snobby Art Critic essay) of understanding never plumbs the depth or is a substitute for the experience of any work.

Your point is well-taken, Fawzan, it comes down to viewing it, and being bold and invested enough to allow your own feelings.

And me? I say - oooohh, goodie, let's have more of these discussions...

3 comments:

Neda said...

Debi, you have a valid point. I agree that sometimes we need to peek into the mind of a "creator" in order to grasp what s/he was trying to attain. There were many times where I would just dismiss a work of art because I did "get it," only to find out later some interesting aspect of the work as interpreted by either the artist or a critic and then revisiting the original artwork to appreciate it in that renewed light.

I also see your point of view, Zan. However, and you know how I love to argue with you :) I think the very essence of creating an art piece is not necessarily the end product but the process itself. Yes, the "work" might be finished, but it entails a lot more than what meets the eye, or ear for that matter.

To conclude: let's agree that both "creator" and "audience" are engaged in a dialectical and dynamic relationship. Now, let's stop here and go to our respective "studios" and do some art :)

Neda said...

Correction: a work of art I did NOT "get"...oops!!!

Debi Cates said...

It is an never-ending dichotomy, that's for sure. The whole point of art, I guess: the artist trying share what he/she sees with feeling, and the viewer trying to share that view, with feeling.

My gosh, I don't know that I would have chimed in the discussion had I known that ONE of us was a Professor of Fine Arts!