Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Compose: An example of content

I know when I've been upstaged! My readers' comments have captured the audience and I'm bringing up at the rear. So I'm riding on their coat tails in this post. They all have great blogs that I visit regularly and interesting takes on many topics. Layers (Donna Watson) brought up another example of two art terms - abstract and non-objective art - that often get used interchangeably. Perhaps someone would like to take this on for a post because I'm certainly hazy on the difference.

Kelly Marszycki concluded that reading a painting depends on the viewer, their background, life experiences, etc. Beauty comma, had the same take. Kelly saw another version of the Garden of Eden and questioned who or what is locked behind the gate- the viewer or the natural world and why is this the case. Don has a similar take and puts himself behind the gate and is resentful that nature is out there ready to enjoy and he is stuck waiting on someone else to let him out (or is it in).

I think that any artwork that causes a viewer to question or consider is a success. Questions that leave one wondering are good; it often means that the work has engaged you to a point that you will think about it after your no longer have access to the image. There are really no right and wrong answers for the viewer. What a powerful position to have.

A little context will help me explain my content in the Gate painting. This is a photograph of the gate in my painting, but this one is in a closed position. It is one of the entry gates to the Millennium Garden in Birr Castle Demesne . When it is closed you can look through it and ogle the beauty that is beyond it. You can be on the outside looking in, but I was actually on the inside looking out because I had access to the garden through my "secret" door in the wall that connected the property where I stayed with the Millennium Garden. For once gates did not keep me out or in. I felt powerful.

In this particular instance, I photographed the gate when it was opened up and pressed back on top of a hydrangea bush. I was interested in the idea of containment, how compressed the leaves were and how some of them were seeking ways out. It was man against nature and nature was winning. My earliest experiences with a cultivated garden was being barred by a gate. All I could do was stand on the fence and look longingly at what was inside. Gates always bring me back to that time. The leaves are a methaphor for me in that situation.

Through her comments, hwfarber shows a good sense of plants and the uselessness of trying to contain them. They will have their way in the end. If there is any possible way for plants to spread beyond man made boundaries it will be found. That brings us nicely to Kathy who wisely asks "Can nature really be contained?"

I was pleased with Kelly's reference to the suggestion of threat she perceived in the dark background. This made me realize that I had successfully created an emotive response in the viewer.


Kathy said...

Nice synthesis of ideas, Margaret! It's my understanding that the term "abstract" refers to imagery which departs from representational accuracy and that non-objective art (a.k.a. non-representational) is artwork that has no recognizable subject matter. It seems to be a difference of degrees.

-Don said...

Great post, Margaret. I love how you incorporated all of our comments into the story-line, tying them together seamlessly into aunified piece.

I had to smile at your line, "A little context will help me explain my content in the Gate painting. ". It took me right back to your original post about Subject vs. Content. In this context either the word content or subject could have worked, because as you continued on you wrote about both. Gotta love it... it's all about Kathy's 'difference of degrees'.


layers said...

You certainly explained your subject matter and your content very well.
To me, abstract means exactly that-- an abstraction or part of something-- you can still see remnants of the object or figure. Non-objective means no objects are visible-- even a little bit-- just shapes, colors, textures, lines.

hwfarber said...

Your blog has given me reason to think about art terms and definitions. When I saw the word "aunified" in Don's comment, I figured I'd have to consult the dictionary for a new term. (I'm not a morning person.) Thankfully, I realized it's an abstract of "a unified."

I am learning from your blog and from the comments.

hwfarber said...

I know that Don has a great sense of humor (and is pretty smart).

Margaret Ryall said...

Kathy and Donna,
Thanks for the definition of abstract and non-objective/non-representational art. Now I'm clear. I would probably get a lecture on that from someone if I didn't get it straight.

I hadn't planned to write the third post on content, but came across several points I had dutifully made in a class about this confusion in terms. Teachers can't leave any stone unturned.

I'm glad you're engaged in my content. Writing it helps me too or I wouldn't be doing it. As usual Don gave "aunified" response. Ha, good one! I'm with Don. I often type so fast that I skip spaces when I respond to posts and them it's out there.

Kelly Marszycki said...

A little late coming in on this but I loved how you pulled all our thoughts into a cohesive whole, with your "context" added to the content. The speculation about the ability to contain Nature is such a powerful one. I always remember that scene in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" where the jungles of the Congo have the ultimate conquest over man and machine. One other quick thought -- somewhere I read that the average art viewer at an exhibit will spend about 3 minutes viewing, then move to the next work; while how long do we listen to a symphony or read a novel?

Margaret Ryall said...

You may be late coming in on the discussion but you have certainly added to it with your insights. Your comment about the average viewing time spent on a piece of visual art is pretty depressing when compared to the attention given to other art forms.
I have to say that I'm guilty of not giving work its due when I am in a gallery. Part of the problem is the realization that there are so many more works there and you don't want to miss anything so you keep moving. When I buy work for my home, I look at it much more -many hours in fact. I hope that makes up for the reality of gallery viewing.