The importance of a strong concept

I finally have time to come back to my chronicle How I see Art. During the past two months, Walk the Arts has been involved in various art projects on three continents, the reason for our silence.

Painting art workshop Italy Tuscany 2018
Painting the landscape in Tuscany

It is time now to talk about the “concept”. We believe that a strong and innovative concept is part of a true work of art. When in Italy and Provence, we constantly refer to this notion while painting the landscape in plein-air. Before we carry on, I suggest reading or re-read my post on what is an idea. I recall mentioning that an idea being a thing of the mind, born from many minds, is a product of socio-cultural conditions that determine its nature and shape. Many ideas are born in a specific art-world from a specific need or out of sheer necessity.

OK, let’s move on. Creativity, or, a work of art, implies the existence of a basic and innovative concept. But a concept is not self-sufficient, it needs a strong relationship with other ideas that you have acquired during your life time, through your knowledge. In other words, a concept is an amalgamation of many smaller ideas derived from your own ethic, social, cultural values ; and on top of that we have the throw the notion of  intention. Moreover, a concept must be innovative. If not, it would be old and dull.   Are we today still driving a Ford Model T? Do you think that one day, the good old telephone will disappear? Do you want your work to be “interesting” and “clever” instead of “fine” and “pretty”?

OK, a bit of art history to back up what I am trying to say. In 1920, the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian knew that he was transforming painting and that the public would be kind of reluctant to his visual experimentation. Therefore, he wrote extensively on his art, to make sure that his concept was sound and clear. To summarize, I will describe his concept using a form of a simple monologue.

Now, just imagine Mondrian in his studio, having a smoke, sitting in an old armchair and analyzing his paintings: “OK… hmm… I will carry on my series around the concept of the universal. I will only paint vertical and horizontal lines, for me the idea of the oppositions that we constantly live in life; I will use only the primary colours, since for me we find in these all the other colours.  I will also be using white, black and grey which are the expression of light, therefore time, day and night. OK Piet! Do not be scattered. If I stick to this concept, I will be able to express my human consciousness, hence contributing to the notion of the universality. This is my intention.”

Since Mondrian was reflective, creative and innovative, he changed the course of painting. For this reason, we find his works in all major international museums.  Could we say the same about a chickadee painting? No! But if the artist is knowledgeable, reflective, clever and creative, the answer is therefore: “Yes”.  Because he will find all the means to make a chickadee painting truly contemporary.

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