How to read art: Understanding Sculpture Shakespeare, & Shendi.

Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Philosophy
section of the branch

Side view of ‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
— Pablo Picasso

One perspective of 'The Bow'

The Bow, Sam Shendi

Sometimes we try too hard to understand what art is and what the artist is trying to say. Any art form be it; music, singing, poetry, writing, painting, drawing and sculpture, dance and even sport (if you see can go as far as to see that as an art form) is an expression from the artist. The creator. It’s their voice.

section of mermaid

How, as someone trying to appreciate another’s voice, do we try to understand what someone else is trying to say? Like with any conversation, it is best to let go of any judgements, any preconceived ideas or opposition. Easier said than done when in a discussion or a debate.  However, in the case of art. The art form isn’t directly speaking back to you in any kind of altercation, so the ability to let go should be easier.

So, with the case of sculpture if you want to understand it, you can consider these following things:

 How does it make you feel?

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‘The Toy’

And any emotion can be relevant. See what comes up. Accept. Don’t try to force meaning or words. Relax and think about the sensations.

Does it evoke memories? Give you ideas, inspire you, does it open your imagination? Relax.

Shelter 2012 Sam Shendi

Let your eyes wander around it. This is why seeing sculpture, live in its three-dimensional form  is important and can help understanding. We can only appreciate or connect so much from an image.

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Look at the colours or lack of colour, how do the colours impact or affect you?

Consider  the materials and whether that makes you feel a certain way?

I saw recently on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park instagram page the quote, “Sculptures often explore the edges of objects and spaces, overlapping, puncturing or touching”. What about the shape, the form, the surface. Is it smooth, soft, sharp, curvy, does it cast shadows?

cropped-kiss1.jpgHow do you interact with the piece when you walk around it?

Take your time.

Does it speak to you?  What does that question mean to you?

‘Urgency’ 2012 Sam Shendi

Art is an experience.

It is about analysing your emotional response to it and the potential for the work to open your imagination and idea up into potential a higher plane.

We might look at a Van Gough, Monet or a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo and think that we can understand the painting and sculpture because it visually makes sense to us. But go beyond what you see. How does it make you feel?

When I first saw the Mona Lisa, I was shocked by the size. When I wandered around Rothko’s large abstract paintings I was in awe. I’ve seen work that is brilliant, baffling and beguiling.

Often we don’t listen to a piece of music, whatever genre and try to understand it. Art appreciation seems a little harder, a little more perplexing. Why?

ripe 2In both there is composition, creating a scene, a mood, a form of expression.

My husband would say that it isn’t about ‘understanding’.  He thinks that unfortunately what is happening now is a generation of people who are driven by materialism and money and are spending too much time thinking about what to create and it that so much of art has become an object or a product. True artists should be simply driven by the desire to express their imagination. He says for example, “if you look at a Dali painting, what he has done is capture his imagination and introduces it to us. We have the opportunity to see inside Dali’s head”.

I went to see Othello with a very good friend of mine. The performance was modern, minimal and had a very shocking scene in the middle of it, which we were not sure needed to be there. Perhaps, we were seeing something that was inside the director’s head…eek! However, what was very noticeable to us both was that because we had studied it for one of our A-level texts we could understand it ( to a certain degree). Where as, we mused that had we not, much of it would have gone over our heads. Watching this Shakespeare performance 20 years after first reading it, seeing it, analysing and taking it apart made me realise that it is important to learn about an art form. If you do want to understand it to a higher level then it is about deconstructing it and putting it back together.

Living with an artist, a sculptor has enabled me perhaps to deconstruct my own way of thinking and put it back together. I wonder if that is essentially what marriage is asking you to do, when you live in a shared space and choose to share your life with someone different from yourself. Communication is so important.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.

We listen to reply.”

Susan Stiffelman.

The same in art, we look to form an opinion, we don’t look to observe and learn. In Othello, we are shown how character and emotion plays a vital role in understanding ourselves and others and how the dangers of not harnessing those emotions can them can have. We can either analyse and learn from it or put up a barrier in opening up our channels of understanding. So perhaps Picasso was right, we can’t explain art. We have to be open.

“Observe, accept, release, transform” Yung Pueblo.

looking up

 

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Difference

Colour, Connections
Mime c5

‘Mime’ by Sam Shendi.

“The art of showing a character or telling a story using body movements and gestures without words.”

This is the definition of ‘mime’ but it could also be a definition of my husband’s art work. Each piece telling a story. A visual cue. This piece might tell a story itself having just got back from being on display with Paul Smith in London during Frieze art fair week.

We are programmed, taught to read words and interpret but less so  with picture, paintings and sculptures. It is interesting considering this when thinking about my boys, both extremely visual. One more of a ‘reader’ than the other but their comprehension high. We can read words forming pictures in our imaginations, perhaps it is more difficult to see art and then create our own stories and ideas. Always just needing that extra nudge or prompt to point us in the right direction. Last night after tea the boys were talking about what they could see in a large egg box tray ( we have gone through 25 eggs this week!) which was propped up against the radiator. They both saw different things, soldiers and feet and all sorts. Perhaps you and I would  just see an egg box.

Wonder if that is the difference between the artist and the viewer?

 

Lean on me

Galleries, Public Art

The concept has so many levels to it. Entitled ‘The Bench’ it could be any combination of two people, sat for any number of reasons.

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‘The Bench’ in front of the Mughal Gardens Lister Park

 

Bring to it what you will as a viewer.

Without going down to sad a route. I couldn’t help thinking of the Bill Withers song ‘Lean on me’: “Sometimes in our lives, We all have pain, We all have sorrow.” Feeling down or having low mood is something we can all relate to, all understand and all sympathise with. Clinical depression is something very different and there has been a lot of discussion over the last few days about it. “Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it’s not a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together” NHS. Recent events remind us that no matter how rich or famous one is  depression does not discriminate. We need to keep in mind that on a human level we can only hope to be there for people, to help, support, listen and care when they need it and when they think they don’t want it. To be there for someone as non-judgemental as possible and understand and accept people for who they are. It is the very essence of  human nature to be a shoulder for someone or to have a shoulder to lean on.
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It isn’t what this piece is about though, there can be so many different interpretations. The  colours are so joyful and have a reason to them. But for now, so proud. This feels an amazing picture on so many levels. Mostly to have a sketch realised into a sculpture furthermore then to have it installed in a public place. This is a sculptors dream and now a reality. A real sense of achievement.

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Fumare

Colour, Conceptual, Philosophy

I thought it was a bit ironic that the local paper had chosen this image alongside the strap line “Artists create work inspired by Tour”. When what immediately comes to mind is ‘A smoker’, meaning a person who partakes in smoking, and not probably partaking in riding around the dales on a bike, (or maybe some are I maybe being presumptuous).

This is a piece which is growing on me, as the more I discover about it and the more I have to think about it  in order to write; the more I understand the philosophy behind it. This is how it should be with art and life. Sometimes it makes sense, it appears to us clearly and we can go ‘yeah I get that’ other times it is more of a struggle we don’t understand or only later on does something reveal it’s deeper hidden meaning.

This piece is one solid colour rather than the usual mix of colours and so for me it is harder to connect with. ‘I just see red’ which is actually is why it is all red. So what is this piece about…the medium for this sculpture is a ‘collage’ of exhaust pipes and mannequin parts. This in itself highlighting the very issue the piece is speaking about. Those moments in life when we feel disappointment, frustration,and we can’t express it. Those moments when you get on your bike and ride around the dales to let off steam! Perhaps, indeed their is a link between this piece and riding your bike after all.

The modern world is gradually pushing us into a trap of not being able to say what we really mean or what we want. We live in a ‘democracy’ where ‘freedom of speech’ is apparently a tool for us all. Yet we are pushed by media and consumerism to think , act and behave in a certain way. We can’t always say for fear off being misunderstood, offending others, not being politically correct. For some people the toll of being on this treadmill makes them ‘fume’. The verb ‘Fume’ means both ‘to emit gas, vapour or smoke’ and also to feel, express or show anger, coming from  the Latin fumare ‘to smoke’.  ‘The smoker’ is  currently in a Saatchi online competition ,having being selected from 4,000 artists it is now in the top 30 semi final.  I will leave you with the images to have a think about it for yourself…..

smoker 1

‘Smoker’

 

'Smoker'

‘Smoker’ or should I re-title it ‘Fumare’

MIME

Colour, Egyptian, Exhibitions, Galleries, Philosophy, Steel
'MIME'

‘MIME’

'MIME'

‘MIME’

It makes me smile, mainly because for ages my husband was calling it Mim, not knowing that little rule that when there is an ‘e’ the ‘i’ becomes ‘eye’. I was a bit unsure of this piece at first. I asked him.’Why make a sculpture of a mime artist?’ ‘What is the point?’. I felt that wIth most of his work I could understand the point. He explained that they had always fascinated him, the makeup, the dress code. He showed me some fantastic images you can see and I started to understand. Étienne Decroux, explored and developed the possibilities of mime and developed corporeal mime into a highly sculptural form, taking it outside of the realms of naturalism. My husband wanted to make a sculptural dedication in a way, in his style. A style which is become stronger. The geometric shapes and Egyptian style very dominate in this piece.

'MIME'

‘MIME’

Last week my husband’s sister stayed with us for a week for christmas. It was lovely to have the sounds and tastes of Egypt in the house. She brought lots of well liked and missed Egyptian treats and the sound of the arabic and egyptian language and laughter filled our house. It always gives me a window into another world and another dimension to my husband to hear him speak in his mother-tounge. Watching them made me think about this piece a bit more, how communication is not just with the tongue but with gestures. I often think I am understanding a conversation now, my ear is in tune and I understand some words but I have a way to go before I can grasp it completely.

It is always fascinating to learn something new, discover something new. When Art can challenge the way you think then I think that makes all the difference. This piece will be on show from February for four weeks at The Curious Duke.