1. sashahphotography:

    This is the exactly the place I would have liked to be this morning…instead I was in a studio..contorting myself for a ridiculous amount of hours doing model test shoots

    (Source: weheartit.com)


  2. Guest Post: Know Your Art Theory & Use It

    As stated in the previous blog entry, it is important for artists to engage in their art.
    However, when speaking to younger artists it’s not entirely uncommon to stumble
    across a remark like the following:

    "To ask of an artist today to explain his or her work within the context of one or more contemporary art theories seems like a misplaced exercise, at least for the artist. After all, we’re dealing with something which in the first instance is a visual creation. And besides, it’s not like Michelangelo or Rembrandt or Picasso ever cared for art theories."

    Let’s analyse this by separating our focus on the three assumptions being made:

    1) Engaging in your own work as an artist is not part of what it means to be an artist.

    2) Conversing verbally or via the written word about a work of fine art is not important because the primary flow of information takes place visually, i.e. through the artist from the work of art towards the viewer.

    3) Great artists from the past didn’t necessarily have extensive knowledge on the art theories of their times nor were they influenced by them.

    1) As stated in the previous blog post, failing to be able to engage in your art damages your credibility as an artist of note and consequently it also has the potential to diminish the credibility your work carry as art. If you don’t know, or worse, if you don’t care what makes your art relevant, chances are that neither will those who view it.

    2) To argue that someone’s understanding of what they see cannot be furthered by another faculty is a fallacy. Those who are to view or read your art are likely to further their understanding of your work were you to verbally guide them along the way by engaging in your art. Also, to better understand how ideas and/or information are communicated visually it is perhaps best to turn to semiotics, which happens to be amongst the most relevant contemporary art theories.

    It is not my intention to go into the nature of semiotics here, so if you’re not familiar with terms such as sign, signifier, signified, denotation, connotation and myth then I would recommend you pay a visit to David Chandler’s website Semiotics for Beginners.

    3) Western art history can be divided into four epochs based on four core ideals that have been strived towards since the dawn of art. Each of these epochs can be divided into periods and movements and further subdivided into multiple branches.

    Without going to any detail here, what is important to bear in mind is that each of the artists who are regarded as masters within the canon of Western art practiced their profession with a very distinct understanding of the main stream art theories and notions of what translated as good  art.

    Have a closer look: these artists were inducted into artistic immortality either for their esteemed contribution to a particular artistic field within its set theories and pursuits, or they are revered for going against the main stream and establishing a celebrated alternative or changing the course of the artistic mainstream altogether.

    Case in point: Pablo Picasso understood the implications of Paul Cézanne’s pictorial fragmentations and why Cézanne’s artistic endeavours steered in this direction from
    Impressionism. Picasso sought to further Cézanne’s quest for a new visual language
    and the new possibilities it would open to Western art.

    Throughout his expansive career Picasso broke countless artistic boundaries, went against the establishment, became the new mainstream only to leave it altogether and head off in a different aesthetic direction. This was possible through his detailed knowledge and grasp of the art sentiments and theories of his times and this allowed him to reinvent and adjust himself as an artist many times over.

    Using Picasso as an example, here are some links to the first short segments of online documentaries which illustrate this point in depth.

    Picasso: A Documentary

    Pablo Picasso: A Primitive Soul

    In conclusion then, and in contrast to the quoted sentiment, it is important for you to be able to explain your work as an artist. It is equally important that you put this ability into practice. Not only is it not a misplaced exercise, but an essential skill you could dearly benefit from. And finally, as an afterthought (just in case you were pondering on any other excuses), from an art historical perspective, having a firm grasp on contemporary art theories is by no means a new phenomenon.

    Francois Pretorius is currently working in Suji, Yongin, South Korea as an illustrator and teacher as well as working part-time on his Masters Degree in Art History & Theory.

    You can also follow Francois’ own blog at 'The Aspiring Artist'


  3. Guest Post: Engaging in your own art

    We here at Sliced Bread are always endeavoring to bring you all fresh content and interesting Art related information and so on that note, we introduce, the soon to be regular, guest blog post…

    A good friend and fellow artist, Francois Pretorius who is currently working in Suji, Yongin, South Korea as an illustrator and teacher as well as working part-time on his Masters Degree in Art History & Theory, has agreed to share some of his thoughts on engaging in your own work as an Artist.

    We’ll be posting Francois’ notes and advice for young and aspiring artists on a regular basis as well as guest blog posts by other artists and people who we think have something important to say, so watch this space.

    The Artist as Reader of Art - Francois Pretorius
    It is of great importance to an artist to be able to engage in his or her art. For those of you who are less familiar with the term engage, this refers to an artist’s ability to verbally address or discuss his/her take(s) on the themes covered in his/her art within a contextual background.
    “Why? Art’s not about talking about art.”
    Really? Well, a while back I found myself in the company of a young aspiring writer. He made no secret of being an Ivy League graduate and boasted an immense air of self-importance. Come to think of it, his stare reminded me of something I recognized in photographs taken of a young and unknown Picasso. For the sake of being civil company I decided to ask him about his writing.
    The young writer
    “I’m writing a novel,” he proclaimed, to which I responded by asking what it is about. “It’s complicated. I guess it’s about the human condition - lots of deeply layered and moulded characters.”
    Fair enough, I figured, but I remained curious and asked him about the genre.
    “Oh, magical realism! Yes, this novel will extend the scope of the whole genre.”
    Turns out I’m quite a fan of the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa (two of the leading magical realist novelists), so naturally, I inquired into his favourite authors and novels within the particular genre.
    “Mmmm … yeah well … you know, I try not to formulate my art on any specific author or …”
    Turns out our young aspiring writer hadn’t the faintest idea of what magical realism entails as a literary construct. Needless to say, it was an earth shattering embarrassment for the poor guy and he left soon afterwards without as much as a goodbye.
    If by some chance or ironic twist of fate the writer’s supposed novel was indeed nestled within magical realism, it would be by accident and he would not be able to engage with his work. He would have no reference of previous works of note, the importance of certain themes within the genre or how it has been dealt with by other authors. In short, his work will have no authority as a magical realist novel and neither will he carry any authority as a magical realist writer.
    I don’t know, you know … no, I didn’t know you don’t know, but I do know now

    An encounter I had with a young artist also comes to mind. I was walking through a small gallery where none of the art really stood out to me as being particularly powerful, creative or even noteworthy. There was an exception though - a semi-destroyed canvas which had been expressively abused in colourful dabs and swipes of acrylic impasto and gauzelike textures, not the kind of work I’m naturally drawn to. While trying to figure out why it intrigued me (and while pondering on which art theories would be best for analysing the work), a young man walked over and introduced himself as the artist.
    We made some small talk and then I inquired into his production methods which he gladly answered by taking me through the various steps. Then I asked the artist if he would explain to me what his art’s about.
    “Uh … well, I don’t know. It’s whatever you make of it, man. You know … right?”

    (a)   No, I don’t know. That’s why I asked.
    (b)   It’s not a matter of right or wrong. Either you know what the hell you’re doing or you don’t.
    (c)   Regardless of theories and sentiments concerning the value of the viewer’s experience of art, if your art doesn’t convey its concept by itself, then you, the artist, won’t be establishing any credibility for yourself as a professional by being/appearing unable to engage in your art.
    This is a case of where I would have valued the work of art much more had I not met the artist who in turn didn’t know anything in terms of artist-object-viewer theories either. In the end I deduced he made it in the manner he did purely because that was how his art could look heavy cool. In turn his inability to engage in his art unmasked him as a fake to his audience.
    Engage in your art
    So let me ask you, as an artist, how much do you know about semiotics, structuralism and post-structuralism? How about Neo-Marxism or postcolonial theory? Any ideas on art and psychoanalysis, feminism, lesbian and gay theories? Iconography or deconstructivism anyone?

    Which of these theories bare more relevance to your work? If you’re struggling with answers to these, you may want to start googling and reading up a bit. These are but a few art theories which are of relevance today or at least have been relevant over the past century. It is bound to get even more complex and sub branched as we march into the 21st century.
    As an artist it is important that you can explain your work and have a knowledgeable grasp of the theoretical context it is situated in. From an art historical perspective, this is by no means a new phenomenon, something I will address in the next article.
    This ability to engage in one’s art comes down to the artist being a reader of art. It comes down to the artist being able to interpret his or her own work, from its choice of media down to all its themes and references, within a contextual background. This ability will give you a greater understanding of your work; it will give you a greater sense of direction in your work; and, it can guide you towards producing a truly meaningful contribution to the world of art. In turn, if you manage this well, it will greatly assist your art in establishing you as an authoritative artist within your field.

    You can also follow Francois’ own blog at 'The Aspiring Artist'