PDP – Jonathon Clarkson, Puzzling Out Contemporary Art

My second year has been very fulfilling and I’ve grown in gaining a better personal style and stronger artful concepts. Constellation definitely contributed to these successes but initially my motivation for constellation was quite disrupted because I was quick off the mark to select Cath Davies, Cathy Treadaway and Theo Humphries options and so was evidently quite disappointed when I ended up being put in an option I wouldn’t have chosen to do. I chose these options because I knew they would all really benefit my practise and was exited to meet and learn from these tutors in their lectures and seminars. Nonetheless, I knew there would be elements of each option that I could learn from, so I was still positive about beginning Jonathon Clarkson’s Puzzling Out Contemporary Art.

Contemporary Art is obviously a really important part of Fine Art to understand and acknowledge: Contemporary is what is happening now, so it couldn’t be more relevant to learn, and straight away I was comprehending new artists and their ideas. The group was a predominantly Fine Art group, which was a little disappointing because a greater mixture of fields would’ve been interesting, but discussions were really good nonetheless. Jonathon got me thinking about the Young British Artists and consequently I explored new artists and immediately had new sources of inspiration because I previously didn’t even know that there were so many YBA’s. For example, I discovered Marc Quinn, who’s eccentric colour palette reinforced my own; Tacita Dean who’s imagery of natural tendency reminded me of my interest in more soft, natural artwork.

The second lecture was about new forms: installation; video and film. We discussed how installation art is perceived and how historians and critics such as Claire Bishop have explored the use of installation as an experience for the audience, who’s book on installation art I have recently borrowed from the library and began reading. This got me thinking about the relationship a person can build with a piece of art because if it delivers an experience, then it can alter a person internally because of it providing a stronger memory for them. My notes from this lecture were really useful in retrospect for my subject module because it contributed artists and pieces for exploring an interrelationship between human consciousness and world, or society – also appropriate to further research into for my dissertation proposal. The video aspect of the lecture was also applicable for some of my Field work in Surprise Me where I looked at ways in which artists used time as the explicit subject to depict a surreal reality.

I unfortunately missed the third weeks lecture on globalism and post-feminism but know that these two topics are important to acknowledge and I’m hoping to cover them more through my dissertation research to further my understanding of art, especially having John Berger’s Ways of Seeing on my reading list and having found that to be quite parallel to feminism and identity politics.

Jon then took the group to London for a day of gallery viewings, to see for ourselves what he had been teaching us. The whole day was a massive success because of Jon’s plan of the day, and he’d provided us with information on current exhibitions with which tube stop is closest, which seemingly made the day run really smoothly and I’ve never crammed so many exhibitions into one day! The exhibition that resonated with me the most was Sarah Lucas’ at the Whitechapel gallery because her work was quite eccentric and had lots of wondrous objects and imagery about the exploitation of sexual activity, and I felt all the artwork coexisted well to create an experience out of her concepts, making me recognize the strength of installation art that creates a human experience, which again in retrospect betters my idea of installation art as a means of dealing with human consciousness. The work I saw in the White Cube was also really inspiring because I saw so many different ways of working and so much experimentation I could take back to the studio with me, for example the layered collage work from Mark Bradford of which he sanded down over and over until finalising a vision he wanted. I have so many notes from this trip to London from thinking about moods etc. that I can refer to in studio practise. Having said this, I regret not using these notes more when the memory of the works were so fresh, and so being able to create some response work  to the artists I saw!

Overall, although I wasn’t intitally exited to undergo this module, as you can see I definitely have benefited from Jon’s knowledge and besides learning new artists, I feel that Jon’s passion himself elevated my own. I loved the lectures where Jon sparked discussions amongst the group, which allowed us to all benefit from one another’s opinions and obviously deliberate input from all the different fields that students were from. This was the first time throughout the grouped modules where this was properly effective for me because the discussions involved so many of us and there was so much enthusiasm aswell.

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