08 Mar 2023 | Journal
Throughout my early years (primary/secondary school, college, art school) I could only, for whatever reason, see value in ‘art’ that displayed a high level of technical ability. I would spend a month painting a face to make sure it resembled the subject or sitter precisely with no compromise whatsoever. If the result wasn’t ‘perfect’, I’d scrap it. Following art school I took some time out to purely experience life and in doing so began to become much more open minded. Having lived a little, I began to realise what art actually is. That’s when things (my approach) changed quite dramatically. For some reason it wasn’t art school that educated me on what art was; it was life.
See, art is the only thing that ever really made sense to me, however realism felt more like maths than art i.e working out where the eye goes in relation to the mouth in relation to the photo or sitter. It wasn’t fun nor interesting, and it didn’t allow me to express myself or my life – which I now believe art should. I had so much to say but was met with frustration at my then ‘art’ not providing some form of release during creation or at the moment of completion. A turning point came in visiting Museu Picasso, Barcelona. I could see that Picasso started off in the same way as me; but wanted to put his stamp on the world of art and so began to develop his iconic style. A style unique to only he. This helped me to understand that the only way to make a significant impact is to make art that only you, the artist, can make. Only then does it feel authentic.
Realism was a good place to start and I’m hugely grateful to possess a decent level of traditional technical ability. The last decade has really been about dissecting the human form in a process unique to myself – chaotic, spontaneous, and what’s more, organic. I now find it much more powerful to capture the essence of a person rather than to accurately convey. The paintings I make today are entirely one-off’s that neither myself or anyone else could ever replicate. They are uniquely personal to that specific moment alone, and authentic to me and my life. I don’t look for or seek inspiration; I just live my colourful life and allow that to lead the path for my practice. My paintings are part of me, and it can be hard to let them go. But it fills me with joy that so many people love these things enough to want to look at them everyday.
A word on the difference between Realism & Expressionism from a historical point of view
Realism, which emerged in the mid-19th century, aims to represent the world as it is, using a matter-of-fact and accurate depiction of what’s in front of us: reality (or what appears to be). Expressionism, in contrast, focuses on the expression of personal emotions and lived experiences of the artist – often distorting or exaggerating the external world to convey those feelings. While some may argue that Expressionism is a higher art form than Realism because it delves deeper into the human psyche and conveys powerful emotions, others may argue that Realism is a higher art form because it requires a high degree of technical skill and can also capture the beauty of the world around us. Art continues to, as it always will, be the source of exciting & thought-provoking debate.
My concluding perspective
From my point of view, there is no right or wrong when it comes to true art. What is of particular importance is that the artist has to be entirely honest with themselves (and themselves alone). As long as they are being true to theirselves, there’s every chance that they are creating genuine, authentic, ‘art’ (still have a bad relationship with that word – here’s why [LINK]).