But do you get it?


I have been fortunate enough to have engaged in two very different dialogues yesterday. One was with a high end art dealer and the other was in response to my reading a book by Adam Phillips, entitled 'Missing Out" , so this dialogue was ostensibly with myself. However, both encounters presented new and challenging information. The dealer was responding to my request to meet with him, to see if I could talk with him. I hadn't shared with him what exactly I wanted to talk to him about, but he assumed that I was asking for him to consider my work for representation. That was never my intention actually, I was aware of the style of work he sold and knew mine would not meet his criteria. I asked him eventually, since he was so insistent that my work wasn't for him, Why? Why wasn't my work to his liking? He said it was too naive, not edgy enough, too easy on the eye. Not complex enough. I found this interesting, because it calls into question what one considers complex, edgy. Is it the technique or the concept/idea behind the work. And why is so much work that is in high end galleries, so obscure. Is good Art supposed to be hard to understand or does it mean I am not in the same league, I just don't get it.

Adam Phillips* spoke about the need for people to feel they "Get It"., that they are not missing out, but are in the know. This plays a significant role in our feeling included, socially recognised, not on the outer. If the audience cannot work out or get what the artist wants or needs from them, and that may well be the point, even the artist herself may not know, it could be because it is deliberately obscure, perhaps because the artist is looking to cultivate a group where only a few 'get my work'. And this is where either getting it or not getting it, or if the audience is prevented from getting it, something else comes into play. Groups of people tend to be defined or define themselves by the things they all get. Art that is hard to 'get' is championed in a world of neurosis, of 'masks' and 'wanna be's. With 'secret' work, the signal is "I know there must be something to 'get' here, it must be important because it is shown within the framework of the exalted gallery, and if I own it, then people will think I 'get it". That I have access to this secret knowledge." On examining my own work then, in light of reading this chapter, made me think that by my creating work that people 'get', they are subconsciously concerned that what they 'relate' to, is somehow too revealing about their inner selves. By my expressing 'anxieties', human vulnerabilities, yes people get it, but its too bare. Naive art is easy to 'read', no challenge there, and the more elite and expensive a work of art is in our contemporary world, the more of a challenge to 'read' it, it must 'appear' to be.


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