The recent March edition of ArtForum magazine features an article by art historian and critic, Tom Holert, on the responsibilities of contemporary art. It is a rational analysis with logical conclusions, but I felt more like a lawyer reading it than an artist. It's entitled Burden of Proof.
The ethical integrity of art remains a topic of discussion for those who discuss art. Some believe that contemporary art must have an association with political and social struggles, and the artist has a social obligation to act responsibly; otherwise, the artist and art become obsolete.
Creating art to have a positive impact on political and social struggles can be a good thing. Many artists successfully do it. I've tried. But to create expectations about art and impose them as rules against artists only creates a false institution in which to converse. It forces artists to replicate an end result, to fabricate a creation to measure up against what others expect in the end. Instead, the creation should begin from within and grow into what it is meant to be -- whether political, social, or something entirely different. An artist who is experienced, knowledgeable and skilled will act responsibly when it comes to taste in art.
We live in a society of political and social structures, but I think good art is the product of individual struggle, isolation, passion, and torment within that society. That is the spark that sets the fire. Love, hate, peace, war, and the grays in between. The torment is somewhere in there, and when it comes to art, maybe the torment is a beautiful thing.
Art may be ignored by literal, linear, unimaginative types. But for creative people, art will never be obsolete, unless so too is seeing, feeling, eating, breathing, or sex. Art is the individual's attempt to make sense of the inexplicable.
Battle of the Shaman, 45" x 36", oil on canvas, 2013:
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