Style and subject matter

January 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Style and subject matter
Just north of a small retirement leisure port, i stopped into a bric-a-brac shop- nick knacks, but of the primitive sort. It was bewildering and almost shocking.The place was thriving, employees all about, Their goods were imports from Asia , Africa and where ever manpower was marginally paid. Crated sculptures of Asian Buddhist styled figurines, crated one after the other. Masks and Rocco carved scenes of wildlife , the sort of paraphernalia offered all over to tourist after tourists. Yet mixed within these stereotypes , were metal sculptures, composed of complex parts , revealing snarling teeth and pedigree of the alien film series. And over there, life size metal soldiers of the Transformer genre, even a painting of the Rolling Stones..... i was bewildered, such a mish-mash of styles, what could tie Buddhism to horror science fiction?  What were they selling here?

Upon contemplation, it could be all regrouped under exotica. Even the mammal sculls with the engraved Harley Davidson logo. These were all images of outsider symbolism. The far off exotic, brought here so the tourist need not go abroad. Easy for anyone to proclaim their adherence to any group of unique character, on the edge of mainstream. Prepackaged exotica....

Just west of another leisure port, I watched a group of arc residents, browsing through another store of primitive paraphernalia. Stranger and stranger offerings. As their commercial sign proudly proclaimed, 'To quote a customer, this is Walt Disney for adults!” '

Sitting in a waiting room in yet another sportsman port, the TV plays a Pixar movie, to fill the time. Oddly the bully dinosaur, reminds me of the chief mean  locust in another animation, whom reminds me of the nasty sabre tooth tiger of another animated work... the style and stories are so much alike, somewhat like the stereotypes of the far off exotica resembled each other in intent.

Just what are we being sold?    Style and story themes, echoing off of each other. Satisfying markets that do thrive. Disconcertingly so. Mass culture. It makes me reflect upon an exhibit I had just seen the day before in a gallery among the vineyards. One artist was offering works in exactly the same style as I had done earlier. This had happened before in a New York galleries exhibit a few years back as well. Styles, echoing each other -like those exotica bric a brac....?  Is art selling the same thing?  Is art but selling?

In the same lakeside port, I walk into a university gallery nearby. A gallery of this, a gallery of that, bric a brac almost.  Each just a theme, just a style, just art.
Then in the gallery of 'master works” I encounter not one, but two Rembrandt's.. so small in scale, the second and third I have ever seen. Tiny studies, but such a huge presence within each. Both portraits were portraits, both elderly men. One was of a story of a rabbi before a ceremony, yet you could have told any story with that image and it probably would have fit, he arts presence wasn't because of  the actual subject, even the style of the two portraits somehow fell to side. As art , they mesmerized with a different intrigue. What had the artist seen? What was he asking if I saw as well?

Incredibly wonderful.These two works in this out of the way art gallery,  the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, are worth the journey. They embody, they speak not of style, nor of subject, but a looking, a regard, a seeking and even an approachment on the part of the artist. Possibly simply the light of a lantern seeking a truth in the world. Everything else in the galleries had become bric-a-brac in its own offering besides these pieces.Beyond a simple case of historical evolution of style or progress in painting. They stood as themselves. Their style and stories were actually irrelevant, they were overshadowed by something else, something a mass market can't offer.   Art.

Incredibly beautiful paintings..








© GAMcCullough      2013


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