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The Artist's Statement (A discussion started over apple tart and wine)

The Big Debate:

An interesting conversation ensued after the AGM last Friday night around the refreshments table. The questions was posed, "How do I write an artist's statement?" The first artist to respond answered with the idea that an artist's statement is found by searching within yourself and discovering why you create the work that you create.

This is a great place to begin, I guess, and certainly if you have some idea of the message you are trying to get across with your art, it is probably pretty straightforward. However, this is perhaps not so simple to answer if your artwork is just art for art's sake, and no deeply profound message is trying to be portrayed.

This leads on to further questions, "Does art always have to be making a statement, or have some deeper meaning? Is it really art if it is purely aesthetic?"

This is where the conversation around the table became rather divided. Some say that creating an artist's statement can lead to artists creating a fake mishmash of gobbledegook just to say that their art has some hidden meaning, when it may not really. Others argued that

all art has meaning and it is just a matter of searching.

Personally, I find that creating art for me often has no hidden or profound meaning, it is just the act of creating something that gives me pleasure and the subjects I choose are purely based on an aesthetic quality that I enjoy. Writing an artist's statement for me is quite a painful exercise because I feel like it forces me to become something fake by making up meaning that isn't actually intended or true, and thus making me a liar. Does this mean that my artwork isn't truly art? Or is the idea of an artist's statement something else? Is it merely a tool to help the viewer understand what they are looking at? If this is the case, is is really necessary for figurative art?

What are your opinions? Let us know what you think about the artist's statemtent debate...

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OK, just in short, I try to put myself into the shoes of a viewer, words about what and why you have done in a painting, might build a bridge to enjoy my work.


Darryl Vance
Darryl Vance
Feb 14, 2022

I think most artists find this a painful task. Regardless of whether you're writing about yourself or your art or your intent or your process, you have to come to terms with the way words limit perception. You, as the artist have to limit that perception with the words you choose to describe the work. Why would you want to do that? Is it important to be able to talk about your work? If you create solely for your own pleasure, maybe so, maybe not. A friend of mine who is a gallery owner in Washington, DC once told me the story of the art isn't as important as the story of the artist. I agree somewhat, in that I …

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