The artist Marcel Duchamp placed a urinal in a gallery and
called it a work of art; this was a concept and did not involve the artists
personal feelings, it was, for want of a better description conceptually; the
idea was prevalent over the artists feeling's . The Expressionist painter
James Ensor was interested to display his own inner world; this made
him an Expressionist. Or an 'expressionist' when he was a part of a formal
group. When Martin Kippenberger produced a sculpture that showed a toad
being crucified, he was not necessarily setting out to deliberately offend
Christians. He was perhaps attempting to reflect the sectarian world that
we are today. This work would only be offensive if he was operating in a
Christian sense. Because Christ is a Christian Icon, he cannot be causing real
mischief since he is not an overtly Christian person; and is not subject to
Christian rules and ideals. If, however he made a work of art which
attempted to show the German chancellor as a paedophile, then he would be
causing offence because he was a German and was answerable to the chancellor,
as are all other Germans.
In my work, I attempt to achieve a balance between self expression and idea. Being that we have already said that ideas have to reflect current thought. When I produce a work which reflects an idea involving for example, terrorism, I am not necessarily showing my own feelings about the subject because I feel strongly about it, but I am producing it because it is a
very contemporary subject and I am operating as a contemporary artist in a contemporary world...''
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'' It is the struggle towards something that produces something good...
.. I can only care what I think. I don't mean that in an arrogant way, I just mean that I really don't care if people regard me as good, bad or mediocre. My work is a continued belief in the investment of human touch, all art, whether Expressive or conceptual needs this. The idea that if an artwork is sincere, it will be unique without trying. The energy of the work is enough to justify it, without having an extra meaning. The artist may have intended a meaning. After that it ,comes down to the artwork being intersting to the viewer, or not, as the case may be.
I liken my pursuit as an artist to that of a song composer. There is a dilemma in facing
the creative process; How can I make an original and unique work of art? There have been so many millions of songs written; there are only 12 notes in the western music scale. Something is bound to sound like something else that has been written somewhere at sometime in human history.
However, there is a uniqueness in human endeavour that makes us all very diferent.The artist must avoid all pretensions he/she has and
'try' not to enter into the process of novelty and shock for it's own sake.
The artist must produce what is inside him/her. Therefore the natural
uniqueness and peculiarity of the individual is sure to reflect in his work. This will have the effect of producing an unusual piece, as well as possibly producing work that is a cliche. This is because ' no man is an island', as they say; we are all influenced by the artists before us and the artists around us.
I have never cared much about what people think or don't think of my work. I don't mean that in an arrogant way; I only
care that I am doing the right thing. Sometimes I get this right, sometimes not.
The world is full of self expression, perhaps too much at some times.
These days, the art galleries and western art world seem to favour conceptual artists over those involved in self expression. The accepted values for how we conduct ourselves and how we function as a society seems to have shifted from a community spirit, working towards a common aim of good for themselves and others, to everyone concerning themselves with there own goals and needs. A good contemporary artist should reflect what is going on in contemporary thought and function in his work. Otherwise he is merely an illustrator or decorator.
The present situation in art; that is neo modernism, is that although it is split into many factions; there are usually considered to be two players; Expression versus Conceptualism.
The inner world of human beings has been a subject in art for over a century. The emergence of the Self has been associated with artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckman. In contemporary art, expression is still a important. There are those who think that modernism was never really fully explored and that there was a rush to move onto new ideas- the remodernist. There are those who think that we live in a nihilistic world where anything goes and therefore the artist can do this- the postmodernists.Both expression and concept existed through most of Modernism in its century -the 20th century. My own goals are a combination of Expressionism and conceptualism.
'First Steps', Pencil , drawn in 1982
GARY J CAMPBELL