I recently went to the Chelsea galleries and was surprised by how many new galleries have opened this year. The construction of yet more art spaces is going on throughout the area. The art scene seems to be exploding here in New York with the most famous galleries opening large expensive spaces. With the world’s artists right here at my doorstep, I can’t help but get excited.
So having said this, how does an artist stand out from the crowd? With so much work to look at, what does an artist’s work need to distinguish itself from the pack? For me, it’s easy. I want to see work that has an obsessive quality about it. This means the work should have an unconscious compulsiveness, a preoccupation with a persistent idea that takes it beyond the ordinary into something more personal and unique.
I recently read an article by Eric Meisel Ph.D, in Professional Artist Magazine, about how turning an interest into an obsession creates passion and is an important key to self-motivation. In other words, obsessing over an idea gives it energy and power. This was certainly true in the work I recently saw in a gallery of ink drawings, however, on closer glance I realized these were delicate works done with human hair. What appeared to be a simple rendering turned out to be this incredibly obsessive work, which I still haven’t been able to get out of my mind. The same goes for the thin threads of color glued with immaculate precision to create large landscape paintings on canvas.
It’s the persistence of the human spirit that surprises me most. For me, this is what distinguishes one artist’s work from another and why I search the galleries for new artists whose art has a contagious effect on me and my work.