Because photography has been such an integral part of my life since childhood, I have lived with an internal conflict…I have taken thousands and thousands of photographs, but that is exactly what it was…TAKEN. Today’s photographic artists would more likely use the term “created”. Although I have been praised for…and certainly well paid for my photographic endeavors both commercially and artistically, it’s difficult for me to justify it as art when compared to the ultimate creative outlet of committing paint to canvas in a non-interpretive way. I have viewed photography in numerous galleries and it is if the photographer is discovering life around them for the first time. Any well-seasoned photographer knows that looking through the view finder coalesces the world into itty-bitty segments, forcing the minds eye to compartmentalize the world into visual sound bites. Some of these bits are…and can be extremely profound. Others amount to pure visual junk.
It’s beyond amazement that critics, collectors and curators alike can find so much meaning in these pedestrian images, and perhaps even more insulting is the digital manipulation, Photoshop, forced blurring and other techniques which I consider a cheap trick, similar to letting paint drip down on a canvas because the image cannot stand on it’s own. There’s alot to be said about subject matter, composition and use of light. If photography has any creative magic to it at all, it has to be the well-orchestrated use of these three components.
There’s a million trees in the forest and there’s a million down and out people in the cities Pick one…photograph it…add a little solarization and call it art. If you want to be incredibly creative, tear off a segment of a newspaper or magazine and glue it onto your print. Now you have mixed media…and if you want to be featured in a major museum dip it in urine or holy water and your photographic artwork will be enshrined!! I’m being a bit acerbic here but after exploring and working in the painting medium for the last few years, it is starting to make me a bit jaded. I can take a perfectly blank white canvas, have virtually no preconceived notion of what will be revealed as I move into the work with selected brushes and mixed colors. It’s light years away from observing the world through a key hole and clicking a shutter at the proverbial decisive moment.
Abstract art is abstract. It may not have a defined rhyme or a defined reason. But it can certainly trigger emotions in some of the most profound ways. OK…I know you will say that photography can jolt a million emotions. But an image is traveling in an entire different plane. It is dependent upon some kind of visual recall. An abstract painting is pure art in the highest sense. You have to delve into your own imagination to conjure up your own feelings and thoughts to interpret what your seeing and feeling.
When you read a book describing the breaking waves on the shore. Your mind builds all of the sensory elements. The visual, the auditory, olfactory, taste, tactile. When you listen to a radio play and the characters are at the beach, you hear the ocean waves breaking on the shore. But you still have to visualize in your mind the overall scene in you imagination. Now you’re watching TV or a movie and the scene is at the beach with breaking waves. Your imagination doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot to do. It’s being “served” to you ala carte. Focus in on the sound of the waves, the color of the shore, the sky, people, etc. It’s all there for you, your imagination has to do little or no work. It’s like looking at a thousand photographs – all at once.
Looking at an abstract painting, it’s there in your face, no outside influences. It’s you…and the painting’s elements before you. Your eye is forced to explore. First the overall impression, maybe evoked by a particular color or line. Next your mind’s eye culls out details. Then the brain starts with the analysis. Your self talk may start out with…this is junk…stupid, what the hell does this mean….my two year old can draw better. But with a little patients and the discipline to let your mind open up, you start having unusual feelings. Some good…some bad…some indifferent. But feelings and emotions, none the less. The amazing thing is…as you re-visit an abstract painting from time to time you will be jolted a thousand different directions, depending upon your own mood and circumstances. This can be an inspirational and self realization experience. A photo is a photo is a photo. To paraphrase an abstract writer…but an abstract painting is a true unfiltered work of art.
Forest for the Trees - B/W Photography by Rod Jones Artist
FIRST IMPRESSION Oil on Canvas Rod Jones Artist