Tuesday, 2 June 2015

'What about contemporary art?!' How to get into it?

I thought my fascination for art had no limit. I say art, and I mean plastic art especially. Visual art. Classic, expressionist, romantic, impressionist painters, Greek sculptures, Inca metallurgy, ancient african pottery, imperial decorative arts, and so much more. Some artists I liked, some I hated, some I couldn't see the point of, and some I loved.

And then there's archaeology. Captivating. I made it my main focus at university. I loved learning about how artworks were a part of society. I loved researching an ancient piece to put it in its historical and artistic context. I love the power of objects. I love museums, their current house. I feel at home in a museum

But weirdly, when it came to contemporary art, I couldn't connect. However, I couldn't stay in that dead end. I wanted to join the party and enjoy "today's art".  
To get myself into contemporary art, I had to look outside of Europe. Too much classicism, too much pressure, too institutionalized? I needed to find an form of art that meant something in its context. Something subversive and true. Real.  Not calculated. Something relevant. Exciting.

And then I discovered this piece from the great artist Ai WeiWei. It merged my two main interest together, art and archaeology. Indeed, in this triptych, we can see Ai WeiWei dropping a Han Dynasty urn, one of numerous archaeological treasures of the Chinese Empire. 

Ai Weiwei "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn" 1995
At first sight, my archaeologist reflexes overwhelmed me. The concept of keeping archaeological pieces and saving them in museums for future generations was imprinted in my mind. Why? Why do that?!
But then, it made me question myself, and all those concepts put into me during the study of my discipline. Why save it? Is it useful to somebody? What about today? What about now? Is everything from the past a burden, putting pressure on current human beings to be better than before? To remind them of what they lost? 
Was that why Guillaume Apollinaire said that The Louvres should be burned down, or that Marcel Duchamp added "L.H.O.O.Q" to a copy of the Mona Lisa? Acknowledging the beautify, but also the pressure of the past?


Weren't nowadays' classic pieces considered modern and pushing the boundaries in their own time? Hadn't Vincent Van Gogh died alone and broke? Unnoticed by his time? Arn't some of the most skilled classical painters of their time now forgotten, or considered as boring and uninteresting in the evolution of Art History? 

Now, in this contemporary world, we had the power to know. To know that artists are a part of our society. I say "artists", and I mean artists that are really there for art, that breath, feel, put their balls on the table for art. For life. For a message. To live. They make it happen. 

And more and more after that revelation, I noticed little moments of art in every day life. A ray of sunshine, a song, a leaf flying away, a guy creating drama, a window getting smashed, a train stopping in front of me decorated with the weirdest graffiti... a kiss, a sentence, a smell, a feeling, a rage. Little pieces of art installed themselves in my heart, just because I was finally open to them. 

Now my limits have dropped, and my mind is open to any good and passionate artist in this current crazy world. 

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