I have been involved in a lot of arty talk recently about slowing your audience down; drawing the viewer to take those extra moments to look into a painting and begin to enjoy the subtleties, examine the finer points, get lost in the marks. How do we do it? What prizes should we deliver for them? How do we ensure that there is something special at each stage of looking?
As if to back up that thinking, I came across a post from the Olsen Gallery in Sydney about an exhibition of works by Melbourne artist, Andrew Taylor. It reads: ‘Andrew Taylor invites us to slow down. His new paintings reward a studious viewer who takes time to look beyond their surface, to the layered oil gestures that have been built up over many days. Taylor recognises that our bustling reality cannot simply be captured, and instead its likeness must be made anew – slowly.’
I can’t pretend that I live a ‘bustling reality’ – I know many who do – but I do tend to hurry, to prize efficiency over depth. The desire to slow a viewer down in front of my paintings could, just as easily, be turned towards myself. I have been known to bolt around a gallery dismissing, in an instant, works that don’t grab me at the most superficial level. I am improving, I am pleased to say, but there is greater progress to be made. And especially now, when I am tackling in my own art the very thing I have been guilty of, I need to strive to take more time.
I also need to ensure that I give in my artwork. As someone toiling on the other side of the gallery wall, I need to invite the viewer to stop and gaze, or study, or question. It’s a joint effort, certainly, but my part is within my control whereas the viewer has their own motivations and bustling reality over which my influence is fleeting at best.
So I’ll slow down, in both my looking and my practice. I may discover things in both that, in my rush, I missed before.
Until next time,