Saturday, November 17, 2007

The "Art Experts"

In days long gone, a fine artist was thought of, primarily, as a painter of pictures. Secondarily, an allowance was made for sculptors and musicians. An amateur artist used to be one whose involvment in the act of painting was minimal and a professional one who busied him or herself in the business of trying to make a living.

By and large art educators and critics do not have the time to create consistent, well-considered works of art, and have to be lumped with the amateurs as a body of rather annoying "art experts." In Rod's earliest days as an aspiring artist he knew much more about this subject than is now the case. He no longer addresses art associations, since he has no training as an art educator. He does not presume to openly criticize the works of others by jurying shows. He has seen elements of favouritism in every selection process he was involved with. It is his wish that art educators and art critics would mind their own business, teaching and/or gossiping, and not presume to be professional artists.

There is, of course, nothing beyond economics to prevent any of them from moving on into the ranks of these unenviable, underpaid, working sods. Any painting is, in the end, a wall decoration, and the status of such work is more a matter of smart business moves on the part of an artist or his agent, rather than sheer outright talent rising to the surface. Sometimes recognition is serendipity! No matter how they see themselves, artists are bit players in the business world, and serfs to their patrons.

Rod has never been misused by an art critic, but having a local reputation means there is little loss or gain in any kind of professional gossip about his work. The lions of the art world are a different matter; Reviewing Colville's 1983 exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario for Art in America , Ross Skoggard noted that his work was controversial in terms of the Canadian art world and that. 'Colville has not yet been properly assessed in his own country,' Skoggard further wrote. '...He is both admired for his workmanlike technique and denounced as a provincial embarrassment by the segment of the Canadian art world that takes its cue from international art magazines.'

John Bentley Mays visited with Colville in Nova Scotia and returned to say this in the Toronto Globe and Mail (July 23, 1983), 'Its (his works) widespread popularity and potential as a crowd-pleaser apart, Colville's art is worthy of inclusion in a small, didactic group show of realists from Canada's Atlantic region; nothing more.'

In contrast, he was hailed in that same year by the British critic Terence Mullaly, as 'the most important realist in the Western world.' It was after this that Colville expressed a greater attachment for his dogs over the majority of people. He is a politically concerned conservative who did tell Mays, 'I do have a fear of chaos, and a strong sense of the fragility of civilization,' goes far toward accounting for the disquieting presentiment that invades his visions of peace, contentment, and beauty.

There you have it, another mark in favour of chaos theory! One would like to ignore such people; fortunately Colville has enough personal charisma and entrenchment or "authentication" of his work to turn his back on Mays without much effect in his pantry.

No comments: