Could you ever define a piece of art?
Is it art because it is displayed in a swanky gallery in Paris, or is it art because it sells for millions of dollars?
Do we appreciate the piece because of the physical and aesthetic attributes, or because of the meaning or story behind the piece?
The truth is, art can be any of these things. From the landscape painters of the impressionist movement to the colourful explosion of pop art, all have a certain allure that has captured the attention of art lovers worldwide.
At first glance, a piece of art usually captures us through its visual magnetism, and this can be through colour or application.
Vincent Van Gogh instantly recognisable through his style of painting which was often used to represent his emotion. His canvases are densely laden with paint, visible brushstrokes, depicted in a bright luxurious palette emphasising his personal expression brought to life through paint.
Similarly, Israeli painter Leonid Afremov works from photographs taken from his world travels reflecting a personal memory and emotion with a stronger focus on the feeling as oppose to a meaning. The elegance of rich colours play together with his infamous and unusual application method, Afremov applies oils using only a palette knife, a method that gives the piece movement and texture resulting in a collection of luminous landscapes and cities.
Both artists, along with many others, use methods such as these to evoke emotion in a subtle and visually pleasing way; others take a more direct approach to expressing meaning and often expose more personal experiences and beliefs.
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, is famous for her self-portraits and unapologetic depiction of her physical and emotional pain experienced throughout her life. Frida declared that her art was not surrealistic; despite what many believed, her paintings were representational of her own life and emotions:
“Me pinto a mí misma porque soy a quien mejor conozco.” Or “I paint myself because that’s who I know best.”
One of the most memorable examples of her work, ‘Autorretrato con collar des espinas’ or ‘Self-portrait with thorn necklace’. Frida painted this portrait during a time of crisis in her marriage. The striking image of a thorn necklace sinking into her neck – a sign of the pain caused by her broken marriage. Frida’s vivid yet often romantic paintings uncovered a dark reality and offered her a creative release.
In Laurence Noga’s second project at the C&C gallery, he combines an industrial and geometric aesthetic with more personal themes and undercurrents. Noga’s recent work aims to create a connection between an external reality and an individual relation to his own history. Entitled ‘Open Systems’, this term refers to the method in which Noga creates both his paintings and constructions. The Systems painter Malcolm Hughes mentions an “abstraction of characteristics.” He wants the audience to think about the ideas behind the construction of the work, from the physical nature to the medium used.
All the artists mentioned use an aspect of their work to expose something about themselves, some more subtle and creative others more obvious and expressive.
Running from October 28, 2017 – March 30, 2018, The Turtle Bay museum in California will present its Art Exposed exhibition. It explores what makes a piece of art, from the application to the presentation. With historic landscapes by William Keith to abstract expressionist pieces by Sam Francis, the extensive exhibition explores a multitude of media with a drop-in art studio giving people the opportunity to create their own works of art, whatever that may mean to them.
Written by Leyla Sitki