Art Criticism: Boon or Bane? (Part One)

Manila Bulletin, December 19, 2011 | Go to article overview

Art Criticism: Boon or Bane? (Part One)


MANILA, Philippines - The visual and tactile arts serve as indicators of a people's identity, time and place, as well as point toward possibilities across cultures everywhere.

Universal is this maxim which, sadly, has yet to impact on people because of their general obduracy to what globally obtains.

The following could count among the reasons:

Unfamiliarity with the language of the visual and tactile arts, painting and sculpture, respectively, which are the foci of this five-part seriesLack of or insufficient knowledge on the principles of design which the artist always observes as a rule of thumbThe paradigms used in observing, enjoying and critiquing an artworkThe pitfalls not avoided in doing a critiqueInability of the art critic to elucidate on the significance of an artwork

Caveat: Criticism, as used herein, is not just "a discriminating judgment; and evaluation" (1); rather, it is a learned evaluation and judgment, for evaluation of artistic/pictorial data precedes judgment. Ultimate goal: to determine the significance of a given artwork.

Elements

Painting and sculpture have their elements which the artists use to give their ideas, even feelings, their material/visual form. In painting, the primary elements are colors, lines, shapes, sometimes textures and found objects. Color can be handled according to intensity, value. The painter can either observe the western canon in color and design, or go against it and present a new color aesthetic, like clashing colors based on a community/people's culture. Examples: the clashing colors of Cordillera art and Muslim art.

Lines may be straight, curved, jagged, diagonal, horizontal, massive, thin, whatever. Whichever, they are always based on something visual, real or abstract. Examples: the De Stijl works of Mondrian, and the paroxysmic splashes of Zobel.

Shapes can be representations of outside referents, geometric, "amoebic", with sharp or blurred contours. Examples: Picasso's geometric pieces and HR Ocampo's cerebral artworks.

Textures can be either rough or smooth, simulated or actual. The painter always has reasons for adding texture with the use of sand then painted over, with generous spatula application, or color overlays. …

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Art Criticism: Boon or Bane? (Part One)
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