Today I read about a fantastic and prominent contemporary Australian artist, Laura, who was trolled online by another artist who accused her of plagiarising her art. Talk about handbags online.
Laura was really upset as it ruined her (first and) latest solo exhibition in Australia. It was the exhibition of her life and now, after months of preparing for it and excitedly creating her canvases while negotiating with the curators, she was contemplating pulling the exhibition all together to maintain her integrity.
The exhibition had got such wide publicity not only for Laura’s ability, but also as it focussed on highlighting the environmental issues surrounding the Great Barrier Reef and its bleaching by man’s activities. Her exhibition featured giant canvases of thick textured oil paints and expressive underwater scenes of corals, water, seaweeds and other underwater creatures. Really mystical and abstracted, the pictures were actually slightly sombre to look at. Ideal for liberals, greens and conservatives alike, it caught people’s imagination.
I am quite critical of a lot of contemporary art. I think that the idea of what art is today has broadened so much that it is very difficult for me to like new work unless I really identify with the whole portfolio of an artist. I want to see that they can draw, paint, can represent the basics, have done life drawing to a level, understand perspective and colour ways…. before I really think something is real ’art’, rather than being intentionally commercial ( ie. nicking an idea cos they think it is a money spinner).
So I can see why other artists get annoyed when an idea is pinched by someone who is technically crap and gets notoriety for it. That’s sad.
And too often, mediocre artists are able to get away with faddish and technically lazy work while sponsored by an influential collector (often novice to the art world). It is the same with music these days, which is why shows like x factor still thrive – for all that undiscovered amazing talent that gets overlooked in workingmen’s pubs, Katie Price gets to make her next single.
The thing about the criticism that Laura received was that her work was spectacular, technically able and bold. She had not entered into the project lightly and meant to make big impact from the off. She’d gone extensively snorkelling with her camera before starting her work to make sure she had fully researched and got the right reference material.
Then, thanks to social media, her critic had been able to make a storm in a teacup. What a way to dampen creative intent. Laura will think twice before picking up the paintbrush next time.
The truth is that all art – whether it be writing, choreography, scriptwriting, music, pottery, cooking etc – is appropriation of other thought. Whether responding to the musical arrangement of a contemporary band’s new rift, seeing the moves of a ballerina, or admiring the work of the public park’s gardeners, we are always inspired by something in order to develop that concept and then move forward with that vision.
The bottom line and takeaway learning for us creatives is that as long as we are taking an idea and developing it in our own way, to make our own definite stamp, unequivocally with our own thought, planning, research and voice, we should be proud to create a project that has meaning and purpose.
Anyway, as it turned out, the trolling that Laura received backfired for the first artist ……. her skill and ability came through meaning the show was an even bigger success from the online ‘noise’. Serves the troll right.