Wherefore “Art” Thou?

When I view artwork in a Gallery or through a social media connection, I usually leave well enough alone and only occasionally comment on something that I like, but when I find an artist that breaks out of the mediocre and creates either masterpieces or junk, I want to say:  “People, wake up!   Get your priorities straight! Don’t you know the difference?”
In the world of art today, anything goes.  I respect that. What I do not appreciate is the number of artists who are gaining recognition on the basis of art that is unpleasant to look at, can be copied by other artists, or shows no artistic talent at all!  When such an artist explains his or her work, the words end up as meaningless as their art.  A case in point … and I quote:
cantwell art ex
“My paintings are the result of a ritualistic process. This process includes a series of combative encounters between the artist, the subject and the canvas; where the mood of the artist, degree of vagueness of the subject, and chance of the materials, can create an infinite number of outcomes. […]   The movements of direction and perspective, in my paintings, act in a distortion of harmonious interactions and playful moments. The work presents a oneness of almost congested thickness, hints of depths, and constant shifting of weight. There is a musical aspect in the way things repeat, move forward, move in reverse, mutating and pushing matter as the flow pleases. The matter is usually suggested towards the natural world in the form of weathering landscapes, atmospheric energies or systems. Some present time and change within a geological melody.”     –Jordan Cantwell’s artist statement
What did he say?
Jordan Cantwell can’t well define his art!  I’m not sure that he can even paint!  He is a Pollock who has advanced to kindergarten, inasmuch as he intends to paint something by himself.  Contrary to traditional rules of landscape painting (not  yet learned in kindergarten), here he paints the sun into his skies, red and furry.  It shines down on vague city structures that seem to be coming and going in various stages of “tipsy.” They hover over flowing pieces of blue emanating from the city like over-crowded freeways, eventually intermingling haphazardly and spreading out into a vast blue “ocean” on which sails a tiny red boat like the home-made one my kids used to play with in the bathtub. In the final observation, the sun is the only part of this work that I find “good.”  Within his [quote] “combative encounters between the subject, the artist and the canvas” the artist appears to have lost the fight.                    —-My critique
Even if you don’t agree, indulge me here. It’s my blog, so I say what I think.  In the world of modernism the process of creating art often seems to be synonymous with “it doesn’t matter.”  Yet, I think “it matters.”  One earns the name “artist”  through exceptional skill and creativity, and by managing and improving on these over time – not by letting the paintbrush go where it will, as if it were doing the thinking and not the artist.
Among contemporary artists today, there are two who have earned my respect because their work epitomizes the word “fine” in fine art:   Lorena Kloosterboer paints trompe l’oeil and realistic art with a skill and aestheticism that few others can equate!
 Lorena K art ex
Artist’s statement:This trompe l’oeil depicts a small niche holding an array of translucent glass bottles & jars.  
The niche symbolizes a safe haven which holds the spirit of divinity. Glass objects, due to their transparency, represent an inner plane. They reflect purity, spiritual perfection & knowledge. The niche & the jars embrace all the essential traits we seek in life.
“Clarity No. 2” Acrylic on Canvas, 15 ¾ x 12 inches
Keiko Tanabe is a master water-colorist who gives new meaning to mastering watercolor.  Her work is magnificent. I wish for all the world that I could render a watercolor painting with as much beauty and sensitivity as she does.  She has the ability to change every day ordinary landscapes, that we rarely “see” as we go about our daily activities,  into works of beauty.  I mean, who ever thought that cars on the freeway or telephone lines dangling askew were art-worthy!  This is one artist who is changing the world through the magic of her paintbrush.
Keiko SCal freeway view


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