After much consideration I finally finished my artist statement.
I’m not the only artist who has a problem with the whole statement thing. Visual arts -as the name suggests- are to be enjoyed and more importantly to be understood visually. They’re not there to be debated through words. That of course isn’t completely true all the time (think about the role of art journalism) but talking about “what an artist wanted to express with a certain artwork” is like explaining human life to an alien. It can be done, sure, but with what results? The old joke “Teacher: So the artist here wanted to say that… Student: Then why he didn’t say it in the first place..? ” holds true with artist statements as well. If it’s not evident from the body of works what the general idea behind them is, then no amount of talking will ever be sufficient.
Maybe even more importantly; why don’t we as artists allow the viewer to form his/her opinion about a piece? Is it always so important to force our worldview on them? Just because I have an idea of why I create a certain piece, does it have to mean the viewer isn’t allowed to form a separate opinion? Why not? Will it take away from my precious artwork anything?
Artist statements are usually required by galleries and contest organizers with limited time on their hands and an influx of submissions so their preference of the bottom line is understandable. That being said I have to admit that I rarely read other artist’s statements even less so in a gallery setting. Even a biography is not much helpful. How old were you when you picked up your first crayon has very little effect on who you’re as an artist now. While the individual cannot be separated from the artist, most biographies won’t tell much about how you matured as an artist. Your life history is only important in context of how it influenced your journey to become the artist you’re now. Interestingly there’s a dissonance I see oftentimes between the artist’s statements, biographies and the actual work they do. This can be the result of subjectivity, sure, but most artists work for commissions which of course are a reflection of the client’s view not the artist’s. Though an artist may maintain a distinctive style (that’s advisable) if most of your work are about some other stuff that has nothing to do with your statement and biography then why bother writing it?(This boils down to the question of how much an artist can “sell out” without loosing his/her artistic identity, but that is a whole different debate. In the current economical situation I guess the answer is pretty obvious..)
To completely contradict myself I gave in and wrote an artist statement nonetheless and put it on my website in case anyone woke up with the burning desire to read it. If not you’re invited to look at my artworks directly and decide it for yourself what I wanted to say.