Sunday, October 12, 2008

Decoration vs. Exploration

Surviving in the space between the two is difficult, but worth some consideration. Artistic exploration runs the risk of being so exceptionally personal and specific that it becomes obscure. Decoration, for the sake of covering a bare wall or other empty space, is discounted by artists for the lack of exploration. In short, it is simple and boring.

Setting aside, temporarily, the over-driven egomaniacal motivations and insecure human tendencies that crave approval, I suspect that an often overlooked factor is involved in many judgements of art. Consider a single factor that contributes to one's thinking about a piece of art often. There are many, but I am thinking of complexity.

Art that is too complex might be inaccessible to many people. It takes too much work to enjoy or understand, therefore few people will spend any time with it, and it will not stay in many memories. By contrast, art that is too simple is taken for granted. It may be exceptionally accessible. It can be as seductively simple as a colorful pattern that brightens up a room. The simplicity can leave a viewer without any way to continue the visual dialogue that starts, and it will not be remembered.

The balance between expressing the seductive visual stimuli that I feel and fully exploring any path of discovery through a piece of art, creates a constant tension that allows me to continue working. I want to make the next piece more complex, or less complex. It can be more or less beautiful or seductive. The work can be more specific and personal, or more open to the experience of others. I don't know the single answer. The question keeps me going.

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