I still remember those words uttered by one of my art teachers, last year. It wasn't meant as a kind remark or critique, but as a put-down. I couldn't care less. I see crafts and art under the same light; they bring beauty to life. The former is more pragmatic, the latter is idealistic. Currently, some of my friends who have continued on with the diploma are facing the issue of "meaning" and "messages" conveyed in their artwork. Many of them are annoyed that the teachers are constantly demanding explanations for every piece of work they create. "Whatever happened to making a painting or sculpture that's just plain pretty to look at? Why does it always have to have some political agenda behind it?" one of my friend exclaimed in indignation. I agree with her full-heartedly.
We live in a fast-paced world where the Internet and social media rule the roost. Throughout its evolution, art as always been used to push an ideology or a message unto the public, and it's never been more obsessive in its mission as it is currently. We are constantly bombarded, influenced and pressured by the media. Art is a media in itself, so it's bound to join the fray. The problem with those teachers is that they are trying to "breed" new and upcoming artist that will hopefully revolutionise the art world with a new "genre". It's an unrealistic goal that tends to disappoint many aspiring artists, shatters the hopes and dreams of brilliant creative people, and discourages them from sharing their gifts with the world. The Damian Hirst that get noticed by Saatchi are far and few, and this style of art only reaches the elite 10% of the population. Personally, I'm more of a down-to-earth individual and I'm more inclined to cater for the other 90%.
If I want to make a statement about the deforestation in Borneo and the plight of the orang-outangs, then I will do so, but in a fashion that is first and foremost aesthetically pleasing to me and the masses. Call it "cliché" or kitsch, I don't care. If I paint something that is meaningful to me, the message will be conveyed in the medium and style I am comfortable with, and will be aimed at the public of my choice. If I see something pretty and I wish to capture that beauty and share it with others, then that is also my choice. I don't need to gloss it over with some political incentive. I like things that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, like good proportions, flowing curves, harmonious colours, and intricate details, and I find all of these are in abundance all around us in nature. If my style seems boring to some, then they must find nature and life itself quite boring. "Man did not invent beauty, he only borrowed it from nature" (my quote).