content or skill

When I was asked what I look for in good art, it set me thinking. It’s true I get excited when I come across a new concept I haven’t seen before. The content of a piece is sometimes what draws me to it, even if the technique of the painting or drawing is just adequate. If the subject has meaning executed in an original voice, it will haunt me. This kind of art stays with me long after I’ve viewed it.

Having said this, I’m also attracted to work that is well executed, its technique and skill so advanced it becomes an art in itself. In this case, it doesn’t matter what the artist is painting. The skill carries the work. This past year I saw a show by Bill Richards at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in Chelsea, NY and I still can’t get it out of my head. The subject of his intricate drawings were certainly familiar…the underbrush of a forest…but the way his drawings were rendered gave the word obsession a whole new meaning.

This brings me to another point. Art for me has to have something beyond an average attempt at making a statement. There has to be an element of accountability that makes me want to linger longer than just a quick glance. I want to feel something. I want the work to take me out of what I already know and make me look at the world in a new way. If the work has metaphor or irony I’m intrigued…add a little obsession and it becomes this whole other world that connects me to another way of thinking.

When an artist is able to bring me to the source of their inspiration, it enriches me. This gets me very excited. The artist has the ability to change the way I see my place in the world, one work of art at a time.