Thoughts on the Relevance of Contemporary Art

Image Source:  The Bloggess

Image Source: The Bloggess

You know, I've often heard people romanticizing the "artistic struggle" as this grand and noble quest to unlock some esoteric insight that only one special individual could ever hope to access. It's cast as both a calm and introspective study of oneself and an uproarious battle against external and internal demons. It's even been shown that an artist who is found to have suffered from some sort of mental disease has their work priced higher than others, regardless of whether or not they overcame that obstacle in their life. Vincent Van Gogh is a prime example of just such a phenomenon.

However, the truth of the matter is far less glamorous. Being an artist is amazing, but trying to be a successful artist is one of the most tiresome and frustrating challenges one can take on in our modern world. There are the struggles for inspiration and the hundreds of hours building one's skills and theoretical backdrop, but then you must also manage an online presence, market your work to an audience as varied as the internet itself, and try to make a living in the process. All of those difficulties are overshadowed by a much larger frustration for an artist like me. That is the increasingly insulated and elitist vibe given off by the "art world" here in the West.

There are some trying to open up the art world, like gallerists taking to the streets in mobile galleries built from converted box trucks that allow those far from arts districts to experience the same kind of cultural exploration usually reserved for those with flexible work schedules and ample leisure time. There's even the complicated new world of online galleries that only require an internet connection to get a taste of this seemingly elite segment t of society. When it comes to us artists and the traditional museums and galleries we can make a decent living through, very little of this democratization has filtered through.

You still see art being promoted that involves zero skill to produce and relies solely on the convoluted explanation of artistic theory to be considered a valid pursuit. You see people taking the groundbreaking style of people like Warhol, Rothko, and de Kooning, and rehashing it over and over again as if there aren't new issues to tackle through art. This sort of exclusionary and repetitive habit that seems to pervade the art world is infinitely frustrating to me. Conceptual art is a valid style and has an important role to play in the art world, but it must be balanced by artists working and being promoted on the opposite end of the spectrum and even by some operating in the hazy middle ground of the artist philosopher.

One can only hope that as those on the outside continue to question the relevance on fine art and its value beyond the 1% that those who have influence will wise up and begin to steer the collective focus towards a more democratic, inclusive, and equally as intellectual direction for artists like myself to be challenged within.