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ART: A statement of the time

Art studies focus on line, shape, mass, composition, color, volume, movement. Basically the creation of something that is compositionally correct and aesthetically pleasing. Through the ages drawing and the skill to replicate the human body realistically was held in the highest esteem. Artists and creativity was thought of as those encompassing this ideal.

Today the art of painting consists of the arrangement of shapes, lines, colors, tones and textures on a two-dimensional surface, thus creating an aesthetic image. More than that one cannot say, the sheer variety of possibilities precludes any more precise definition. The finished painting may be wholly representational and naturalistic or wholly abstract - comprising only geometric shapes or anywhere in between. In genre terms, it might be a narrative history work, a portrait, a genre-scene, a landscape or a still life. It may be painted using encaustic, oils, acrylics or watercolors, or any of the new contemporary mediums. And as art critics and historians can testify, there are countless conflicting theories about the function, design, style-hierarchy and aesthetics of painting, so perhaps the safest thing is to say that as "visual artists", painters are engaged in the task of creating two-dimensional works of visual expression, in whatever manner appeals to them.

Over the years Art historians have categorized artists according to their style or technique from the Renaissance to Impressionism to Cubism. But what about the artist, the one whose creativity aims to infuse a degree of intellectual content, in the form of symbolism, a moral or social message, or some other meaningful content; how are they to be categorized? Are they not the true story tellers of their time? Expressing through their work the trials and tribulations of famine, war, hostilities, racism, social injustices. The famous American critic Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) once stated that all great art should aim to create tension between visual appeal and interpretive possibility.

Truly great art is not sufficed to say a “pretty picture” it is a social statement of the time, what is happening in the world, how people are reacting; then ART is created. Art is a form of communication between the artist and the viewer. Art is about vision, and how that vision is expressed is what can create a strong emotional pull for the observer.

“Art not for art’s sake” but artwork embedded in social critique, political and cultural issues. The resistance to the oppression of socially inscribed narratives and socially dominating practice presented sublimely to the viewer and open to interpretation.

The act of creating is an emotional release; it centers one, giving an inner peace which allows us to reflect not only on who we are, but how we think and feel. The pride of being an artist comes not from what one sells, but the inner peace one derives from the act of creating. The act of creating a statement of the time.

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