While there are many serious things to concern ourselves with pertaining to life and our chosen professions [ie. artists etc] as we mature we tend to lose the ability to play. This occurrence is so ironic in that we are born into curiosity and the act of playing as an innate human trait. We can all remember the imaginary world that sustained us as small kids and the ease in which we took in others to participate with us. Playing was central to our existence and ability to learn.
As a gallery owner one characteristic that I always look for is the element of ease, an absence of a labored overcomplicated work, something that has been worked to death because more is always better for most. In other words I look for a sense of play and underlying personality. There are so many things that literally beat out of us the ability to play and that turn our mode of operation into mechanical, mundane and predictable skills.
Once we have put in our hours to develop our craft, be it painting, ceramics, glass or whatever means of expression you chose, learning to play at that point is vital to both developing a point of view as well as the motivation to push onward in the face of any and all challenges to your purpose. If going to the studio becomes a job more than a field of play then the core of the what, the why, and the how becomes tainted. Why do we actually do whatever it is that we do?
The business end of art making brings with it ironies that need to be understood and addressed. The commerce part of art is a dead serious endeavor. But the work that is exchanged, valued and coveted must transcend mere product. It IS product and inventory and thus one of those ironies. But it must convey that it is more than that to motivate interest whether in a museum or gallery. As artists we sell ourselves. The work we produce reflects a personality and a very particular skillset named YOU. It can’t be gotten anywhere else. It comes from you alone.
In the world of thousands and thousands of pseudo artists and all that they produce, the work that clearly stands out contains common traits. One is material mastery. Second is conviction of concept and lastly a virtuosity that reflects a complete immersion of ourselves into that work. To describe the feeling it emits is ease of process, play, personality and insight. Seeing something in a way we havn’t seen before. We really learn to play once the hard work has been done, primarily developing our skills. Once we have that the best we can do is learn to play.
Image: Beatrice Wood/ aka The MAMA of DADA
Beatrice lived a colorful life and I have included links to her site and a book that is highly recommended on her life. Loved how she lived her art and made her mark on the artworld.