“No matter how much the art establishment doesn’t like your work, there will always be enough people who will love it and will buy it and so enable you to keep going.” These were the encouraging words from Jenny Judova who runs Art Map. She had come to talk to exhibitors at Artmasters 2015, at the Old Truman Brewery, about developing contacts and getting gallery representation. Such encouragement was necessary as watching visitors look at your art is uncomfortable.
Just think about your own behaviour on entering a new art gallery where you don’t know much about the artists. You idle about giving most of the works half a glance; occasionally you see something you love but often you don’t; you move on to the next one and then drift out of the door. We all do it; it is natural. As a visitor you feel you are behaving well if you refrain from rolling your eyes over some work you don’t like, or on reading some particularly arty bollocksy piece of prose.
If you are the artist it is completely different. You want attention; you want to say, “stop; look at mine. Tell me about it. Do you like it? Or even, if the visitor clearly doesn’t, “tell me what you don’t like about it.”
It can be nearly as disturbing if you see somebody stay and look at your work for a reasonable length of time. How uncool is it to rush across the room and ask, “what do you think?” Uncool or not, I did see one chap studying my work and wandered nonchalantly, I hoped, towards him to give a friendly ‘hello’. He moved off without saying a word.
Why put oneself through it? Well, on top of the Private View, where you are insulated from the real world by friends and family, artists at the exhibition were encouraged to stay around and meet visitors. Last week I enjoyed talking to those who were exhibiting at the Photomasters. Getting some feedback is always useful, so in theory I was up for it. Of course some people have been interested in my work and that has been great. But by and large I would rather not be around. So here, where I cannot see your reaction, is the piece I have on show. It is called Calcium Wave.
This piece has two main influences; in part I have wanted to question why paintings are normally rectangular with straight edges and so have been experimenting with irregularly shaped paintings that have a sculptural element. The idea behind this specific work is that I find extraordinary that we are in essence a number of chemical reactions of which we are mostly unaware. Calcium waves occur in the brain and are thought by some neuro-scientists to enable the glial cells, which have been associated with imagination, to communicate with each other. I have depicted the waves as being partly like the sea. When I was younger I used to do a lot of caving in limestone caves which are made mainly of calcium carbonate; the waves are also reminiscent of some of the deposits you get in these caves. I hope that people looking at the piece will start thinking about their own brains and so set off their own calcium waves among the glial cells.
If you are around in Shoreditch over the next couple of days why not drop into the Artmasters Exhibition? And if you see me, do say hello.
Artmasters 2015 runs until 6pm on Sunday October 18 at the Old Truman Brewery, Ely’s Yard, 15 Hanbury Street, London E16QR.