March 11, 2012

Attention to detail

two works by Daan Van Golden at Wiels Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels, and two views of Martin Creed's installation at sketch, London.

Daan van Golden
His relatively small but diverse body of work is characterized by an acute attention to detail. References to important works from art history, as well as to less exalted images from commerce, pop-music and daily life are important components of his work. Van Golden has never been too concerned about prevailing artistic trends and has always carved a path of his own. His art does not consist of large brushstrokes, but of a much more modest gesture: his paintings are the result of a labour-intensive process, whereby a visual motive is explored in a very careful and precise manner.

Martin Creed at sketch:
Work No. 1347 consists of 96 different types of marble, in a formation of zigzagging lines across the floor, while Work No. 1343 is a new work specially made for the restaurant in which every single piece of cutlery, glassware, lamp, chair and table is different.

Attention to detail is an important thing. Something I seriously consider and take pride in with my work. While I appreciate the grand gesture, the found object, and the impersonal minimalism, there is something about labour intensive finely detailed craft which resonates with  me. Details are what give things credibility and authenticity apparently - at least this is what people praise and/or complain of in any televised period drama. The measure of something.

I like to think of details slowly building themselves up, accumulating numbers until their presence is inescapable. I strive to create a sort of push/pull effect - where the audience must step back from the work to take in the full picture, but afterwards are pulled close to see how the image is made.

It is in the details that one finds the clues in a murder mystery ("The Murder Mystery" could pretty much be a concept by which I question the meaning of life through my art practice). Red herrings too. It could just be the way a person phrases a sentence that gives the game away. I like to try and watch out for it, pick up the clues en route, and form an educated guess as to whom the perpetrator could be. It rarely, if ever happens like that however.

At this point it feels apt to admit that every single school report card given to me used the word 'diligent' in some capacity. It is a word that follows me around, and during my final year of art school, finally infiltrated my studio.

Before I used to sit on an idea, shape it like a bit of clay in my head, bolstering it with various concepts, cultural references and the like. My idea process changed while my work changed, and it took on a more insular, patient, labour-orientated facet, and all this time spent working, was also spent thinking, and both started to influence and build upon each other, and also from the music playing while this working and thinking process is going on. Hmm, sounds pretty wishy-washy. Bit new-age, 'organic'.

I guess what I am trying to with my writing these days is a similar method to working and thinking simultaneously. Trying to reach some level of clarity just by typing sentences around some of the thoughts in my head. Different ways of saying the same thing.  These days I just start writing things down/typing things out, seeing where they will lead me and how often I repeat myself.

And by-the-by, I am convinced that Van Golden's work of the young girl cartwheeling is out of sequence. Surely the 3rd and the 4th images should be switched around to give a complete cartwheel? But maybe, that is the whole point of it - that the details don't add up.

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