© 2019 Ian A. Ryan

Dissertation and Thoughts about Painting

February 14, 2016

My dissertation has taken up the vast majority of my time so far this year and in many ways my studio practice has taken second place. Although I get much more enjoyment and satisfaction out of my studio practice my dissertation needs to be done and I want to make the very best effort I can with it. In many ways it is more important for me to get my best marks in my written work as it is with my studio practice. I feel that what I hand in for my dissertation is very much a true example of all the effort I have put into it. I feel my studio practice shows the effort I put into it but I can never convey they volume of thought that I put into it. When writing up these blog post I try to show as much of my thoughts and reasoning as possibly but they are only ever really a highly diluted overview. 

 

I also feel that my dissertation is going better than I hoped. Yes, it has been very hard at times and I have had periods of doubt and needless worry but I feel that it is becoming very much the best piece of writing I have ever done and I have learnt so much during the process about myself and the art world. A large part of my dissertation has been discussing what is known as Zombie Formalism. This is a critic derided style of painting associated with under or recent graduates. It is exclusively abstract painting based and produced using various methods to achieve a very similar aesthetic outcome. There is an example below of a work by Lucian Smith produced using paint sprayed from a fire extinguisher. Although this style of painting has been 99% derided and mocked by critics it has been selling exceptionally well for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 Lucian Smith - Rain Painting.

 

This has really got me thinking about what it means to be an artist, particularly a painter today and how does one measure success? Lucian Smith has sold hundreds of paintings for many thousands of dollars so one can argue he is a very successful artist. However, as can be seen above his painting itself cannot be considered good by any stretch of the imagination. It looks exactly like the sort of art rich people who know nothing about art buy. 

 

This has really made me think exactly what I want to get out of my own painting. It would be amazing to be able to work full time as an artists and have it pay the bills I need to pay in order to live but how exactly should I go about my practice? Should my priority be to earn a living as a painting or should it be to produce quality work? I have recently been in communication with Royal Academy of Art Painting Tutor and Turps Banana organiser Philip Allen. We had a conversation about the cold reality of being a successfully artist and Phil said "I guess this boils down to what your desires are as a painter . One needs to distinguish between "art" and "career". Making good art doesn't mean a successful career and a successful career doesn't mean one is making good art.". This has really made me consider exactly what I want to get out of my painting. My main intention is to give me a lifelong interest where I can pursue my own goals on my own terms. I understand that doing an academic qualification such as a Fine Art degree requires one to conform to what academia requests but I see this as a short term necessity that I need to go through in order to further my practice and ultimately become a better painter. When I complete my degree I can pretty much paint whatever, however I want. My decision then is to decide if I wish to make art for the art market or make art I feel is true to me. I very much would eventually like to sell the art work I make and it would be great if I could do that on a full time basis but ultimately it is more important for me to feel some form of personally satisfaction in what I do so although I need to be aware of what is occurring in the current art market I very much am not going to make a certain type of work just because it sells well.

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