Versatility


Versatility, diversity, fluidity… At least for “versatility” a very kind friend from sunny California tells me I have it… Probably she’s right. I am quite versatile: I can change subjects, techniques and manners quite swiftly. Not that this respectable quality did a lot of good to me… Art merchants, gallery owners do not like this imprevisibily a lot. They want a “style” (and only one; two at the most…) who sell well and easy. Who can blame them? They are in the business usually to earn some profit. How many – even slick and eccentric ones like Ambroise Vollard – do it just for fun? For them a versatile artist is one who did not find a style of his own, a troublemaker, an incostant and not trustworthy artist.

But what if you cannot do otherwise? What if you are versatile because that’s what (and how) you are and you cannot change that without doing violence to your own nature? Then you are what you are and there is no way you’ll find a style and “freeze” in that style (even if it sells well) forever. You MUST evoluate, you get bored if you paint or draw too much in the same style, the same subject, with the same tools and colors… I will simply let the merchants to their profit and do what I have to do: finally, how many of us, artists, are doing this strictly for money? If money and profit is your only goal there should be a lot of other fields where you can do that… Do not misunderstand me: money is good. But versatility is better…

Here it is a versatile portrait of “Adolf”from the odd times of 2003: maybe a cartoon…maybe an interogation about madness… Anyway, I had no idea what I will get when I started to paint this…

Adolf


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8 responses to “Versatility

  1. A fantastic text, Danu! So well written, and so true! I am an example of versatile painter myself, in its extreme form (when I exhibit people ask: who are the painterS?) and I will never be able to change it, whatever it costs me. But you know, I think that even when we change the techniques, subjects, etc all the time, there is still something “”in the paintings, which says they it is you, or me, who has painted them. It is much more subtle, of course, adn deeper underlaying. But it is there. And it is characterises us much better than any special style or technique. The versatility itself says says already a lot about us, doesn´t?
    I really believe that one day the art merchants and gallery owners will change their attitude about that, because it seems to me a quite unmodern one.
    And: I adore this Adolf´s portrait!!!!

  2. Tu as raison sans doute, Miki, concernant le quelque chose subtile qui EST notre marque… Mais combien des marchands et quelle proportion du publique sont intéréssés (ou capable) de voir cette marque très personelle?

    Et tu est infatiguablement optimiste si tu crois qu’ils/elles vont changer d’attitude… Ils/elles le tolerent dans les déjà fameux, comme était Picasso, mais pas pour les moins célébres ou les inconnus (mon cas)je doute… Ne disait-il, Picasso, “si je crache par terre, ils vont encadrer ca” ?

  3. It is a good likeness. I have found an interesting thing about painting either in different styles or different subjects.

    I once read that most viewers of paintings are attracted to some common thread of a painter’s work. Not long after reading this I was at a street type art show and saw a young man’s display. He was very talented but had only a few paintings and they were completely unrelated. By that I mean he did not have three still lifes or three landscapes, etc., but one of each. All were well painted but the overall response I had was dissatisfaction at the display.

  4. In fact, Danu, my comment has nothing to do with optimism, quite the contrary! I want to explain: where I live it is full of painters, with exponential increasing tendency. As far as I know, it is In France the same, in England, in Germany, well quite everywhere in Europe. I have the feeling that it is the same too in USA, and perhaps in Canada. The quantity of art works is terribly increasing, which means that it dimishes the value of each of them. Then, with the internet, the blogs, etc, it has become VERY easy to get inspired, to copy any style, etc… which means that the uniqueness of our art work will disappear more and more. That means that one day art work itself won´t be interesting any more for the marchants. But there is one thing which one cannot really copy, and this is our personalities. I think that the personalities themselves will become more and more important in the more or less next future, they will be the art work themselves, and not what they”produce”. I am quite sure about it.
    And I really believe that the way you appear versatile in your art will be in your favour one day. But not only the paintings… the texts you write too… and your joy too I guess… all that is telling the world that you are somebody very special, Danu, with an extraordinary personality and knowledge. I am very serious saying that
    I would say. go on pain ting whatever and however you like, go on writing and teaching, and be patient.

  5. It is the same (if not worst!) in Quebec and, I suppose, in Canada, miki. La démocratisation de l’art, you could say, brought more “artists” on square feet than ever in the history… Everybody can be an “artist” nowdays, which is, essentially a good thing, probably… But as you observed, the quality, the uniqueness, the originality kind of suffer… It’s like we have a mass-production of art…

    The worst thing is that most of the “artist” are profit oriented. I made a search on some Google statistics or such concerning painting: almost ALL the references to painting were IN CONNEXION with money: how much a painting of Van Gogh, or Picasso or Klimt (now the most expensive painter in the world with some 186 milions if I remember well!) How a Van Gogh painting in australia was or not an original and how its MONETARY value would diminish…

    It seams (and you and Bill can probably confirm it too) that Americans especially the main interogation concerning a painting is”How much?” So, reflecting this obssession with money (myself I’m a bit obssessed because I don’t have it ! ha,ha) a lot of relatively inteligent people (which is to say relatively stupid too, I suppose?) came into painting to make money doing something pleasant…

    But I strongly believe that you, Miki, and Bill and Lisa and Susan (sorry if I forgot somebody among our CC friends) and maybe me, too, we are true artists, original and unique, a specie which is , as you well said, kind of endengered by the multitude. And “they” (I mean the bloody Internet thief and robbers) cannot do but a meek and poor imitation of us. And our originals will still have greater value than any copy.

    Je me suis gonflé comme une grenouille en lisant ce que tu pense de moi! Merci! (moi je ne pense pas tant que ca de moi-même mais bon, je me connait un peu mieux… ) And I will do that – continue to paint and write a bit, as long as I can…

  6. You`ve got something there, Bill! People (all people, I recon) like an unitary “style”, like “series”… I recon also that they are – most of them – scaried by too much diversity or originality or bizarreness… It’s unsetlling, troubling… That would be a good subject…

  7. An interesting painting Danu, on the face of it, Hitler looking benign…but I like to think that the bird on his head is showing that he is “cuckoo” and the green tendrils poking out from his belly, the rotten stench-ridden entrails of his evil.

  8. Yes, Kevin, you got it right! But I tell you, I gave it the title after the deed, because it resembled the guy…When I started I had no precise ideea in my thick head… I’ve just painted and this is what resulted…

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