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‘I could do that’

11 May

Otto Zitko and Louise Bourgeois, 'Me, Myself and I'

I was walking along the canal in Bristol last week with some friends and we ended up in the Arnolfini sipping wine at a private view. This was great, until my friends spotted the art. I should mention now, that these friends are not arty friends. The art in question consisted of thick blue paint daubed on all the walls, not just those of the gallery, but up stairs and into the hall. Cue derision, mocking and the familiar ‘I could do that, no wait my little sister could do that!’

I found myself defending this art (that I did not have a particular like for) against my four friends, who demanded to know why this should be seen as art. Is it art? Yes and no. But should it be dismissed outright? No.

Just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t automatically mean that it is bad. When at first you read ‘Romeo and Juliet’, did you understand every line that Shakespeare wrote? If I sat down and looked at a French poem, I wouldn’t have a clue to the meaning, despite recognising the letters. So why is it that people who know nothing about art, assume that everything they would need to know about it is there right in front of them?

Where I work a new exhibition has just opened, called ‘Pursuit of Imperceptibility: Crypto’ by Dick Bixby. Basically the title means – as far as I can tell anyway – looking or trying to find what you can’t see/hear/touch, even if it is hidden. I like the art more now that I understand the title. The more time I spend in the gallery, the more I see. Yesterday a tiny person popped out of the black paint. Art doesn’t have to be easy or difficult. It just is. I think it’s important to remember that, even if it means defending some bright blue scrawled paint on a white wall.

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