Thursday, August 28, 2008

Op-Ed: You Call That Art?!

Francisca Blogger Tiina Vuorenmaa reacts to art reacting to her...

"You call that Art?!"

"Why would anyone pay thousands of dollars for that?!"

"My kid could paint that!"

I had heard these comments before, and suddenly - as I'm looking at the art in the James Gray Gallery of Bergamot Station - they came up again, but this time in my own head.

That was a shocker. I may be a math nerd, but I have an appreciation for the arts, even when they can be confusing or controversial. I've studied basic composition and color classes, and I've watched both my father and my sister take fabulous photos. Clearly, these paintings are not done by a child and the comments are just a rash reaction to a piece of art that isn’t my taste. Well, just because I don't like a painting doesn’t mean I can't understand it. No matter how bizarre, abstract, complicated or simple art can be, there is still a method to the madness.

So, I take a closer look.

I forget about beauty being in the eye of the beholder and view this piece objectively. I can see that the bright, saturated blue is set in such a solid way amongst all the various strokes of oranges, browns and cyan that it must be on purpose. Even the dark spots inside it have a different texture than the rest of the piece. This must have been a conscious, artistic decision.

Now, the rest of the strokes may seem to go everywhere, but when I follow my eyes, I can see them direct me down, around to the left, up and back to the center allowing me to view the whole painting. The skinny orange strokes, at the top, are especially important for leading the eyes, but the blue shape itself can lead the eyes in the opposite direction to the section of white.

This leads me to the most bizarre part of the piece - that little stroke of brown inside the white. While, at first glance, it may look like a mistake, I consider it to be intentional for two reasons. One, it breaks up a big patch of white to keep the balance. Two, it leads the eyes down and again we follow the rest of the strokes, this time, counter-clockwise, back to the blue. There is method, purpose, intention and thought in this whole piece, and all I needed were my eyes to tell me why.
No, a child, unless he or she is an artistic genius, could not have painted that. Francisca Valenzuela did. Just take a closer look.

-Tiina Vuorenmaa, Staff

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