Understanding art

Blankly staring at a canvass with random colour splotches, an ‘art admirer’ nods, then begins chewing on the temple tips of his glasses before moving his gaze to the next painting.
From afar, it looks like he has made a deep connection with each of the pieces: perhaps he has discovered the meaning of life within those splashes of colour.
However, I have learnt that this is rarely the case. At the beginning of my varsity years, when my juvenile mind had hardly seen an original painting, let alone know what a canvas looked like, I would stare in wonderment at these art lovers as they stared in wonderment at the pieces.
How I longed to be one of them, look at a painting or sculpture without needing anyone to hold my hand and explain what they meant. Oh, how I longed for the day!
That is until I walked up to the gentleman chewing on the temples of his spectacles to ask him to explain to me what message the painter was trying to convey with his work.
He laughed loudly, causing the entire gallery to ring with the sound of his laughter.
“I don’t know my dear, I simply like the colours, and they make me feel happy, but if an art review is what you are looking for, I am afraid you are barking up the wrong tree”, he said with a smile.
After my initial shock, I began swearing like a sailor because I felt cheated. Had my mother been present, she would have stuffed a bar of Protex in my mouth and exorcised me.
Over the years, I have come to learn that many people are the same when it comes to art.
We enjoy being referred to as art lovers. However, we never take the necessary time to study the art we claim to love so much.
The same can be said about some art pieces. Artists produce works without a second thought of what they are trying to say, or whether their work correlates with their theme on some level.
There are those artists who are ever creating abstract art pieces, which leaves one to wonder why abstract is the only way to go. What happens when the exhibition’s opening is closed and all the cheap wine has been drunk, and what becomes of the art then?
Will it stay in our minds for eternity? Will it inspire some form of discourse long after the exhibition has run its course?
As the year matures and the number of art exhibitions grow, my mind is plagued by these thoughts. Most exhibitions are only relevant when they are on display at their various galleries, but when they are taken down, they are in the depths of yesterday’s lost memories.
We pretend to know about art because we are too ashamed to admit we know nothing about it, so we nod like the buffoons we are and hope no one asks us to decipher what we are looking at.
The two-and-a-half years you spent in arts school are not enough to make you an art critic, or make you an outstanding artist. One can never know enough, regardless of what field you are in, so educate yourself.
And do ask when you don’t understand. It might save you from a world of embarrassment.
-faith@thevillager.com.na