Friday, 16 October 2015

The Accuracy of a Picture

Having been prompted by an interview with Sir Anthony Gormley on Radio 4 this morning I decided to revisit E H Gombrich's The Story of Art which I last read at art school over ten years ago.  This quote from page 26 is particularly relevant to my own practice:
There are two things, therefore, which we should always ask ourselves if we find fault with the accuracy of a picture.  One is whether the artist may not have had his reasons for changing the appearance of what he saw. ... The other is that we should never condemn a work for being inaccurately drawn unless we have made quite sure that we are right and the painter is wrong.
There is a danger for artists who manipulate the appearance of things by distorting reality to embody psychological states that it may be perceived incorrectly by some who may criticise it by saying that, to quote Gombrich again, 'things do not look like that'.  When appraising my own work at The Drawing Gallery the dealer Yvonne Crossly, PhD, RWA suggested that I should exaggerate the surreal qualities of the work to avoid any misunderstanding by the viewer.

In spite of enjoying surrealism and its link to psychoanalysis this felt, at the time, like a an awkward imposition on the work rather than a natural progression.  I have since questioned this decision but I still feel that liking a particular movement of art is no justification for emulation.  The natural distortion of the lense is something I enjoy because of it's subtilty: should I be concerned that in our fast moving world of imagery that people are unable to take the time to notice this?

Taking the time to notice has been an issue for me in the past, but not in such a bad way.  In 2008 the then Director of The Contemporary Art Society, Paul Hobson, when viewing my work on display at Aspex in Portsmouth, asked me if I was 'the artist who took the photographs of interiors'.  I was flattered that he thought them so accurate as to be photographic but at the same time it is a concern that my charcoals could be too easily dismissed as photography if rendered with too much realism and not enough surrealism.

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