Friday, June 30, 2006

misogyny or pragmatics?

Number three in my primal landscape series. I've run out of big canvases (48" x 48" or 122 cm x 122 cm), though, so must work smaller for the next few instalments.

I've been trying really hard to tone down my palette a bit, but every time I do it doesn't seem to work and I need to kick it back up a few notches. My head is too easily turned by outside influences, and the galleries in this town tend to consider this kind of symbolic, highly-keyed, almost decorative work to be less-than-serious. There is definitely a sober, angst-laden, we-take-ourselves-very-seriously timbre to what is being shown currently. If it's not Ulysses-on-canvas it's not Art. Am I feeling bitter? Truth is, I did have to face a major disappointment today. I want to 'belong' but I don't want to compromise. Working with the style and symbology I've developed, the stencilling, patterning and layering I prefer, the flattened and segmented picture plane, the pre-Columbian motifs that were part of my childhood, and my continuing exploration of layered earth themes -- these are the things that are driving me. I'm too pig-headed to try and conform at this stage of my life.

I've also been wondering why galleries such as Gallery Jones have only five women artists in a stable of 27. There's no doubt that there are more women practicing art than men, and part of the reason the gallery representation isn't higher is the way women approach art compared with men. Women are more likely to make it a hobby, gather in social groups and exhibit in community spaces whereas men are more likely to look at it as a solitary activity and approach it as a profession. That still doesn't explain why men outrepresent women in galleries as much as they do, though admittedly the 81.5% men to 18.5% women ratio at Gallery Jones is unusually excessive and not representative. Is it misogyny or simple pragmatics? Is art created by men better or does it just sell better? Personal experience has often taught me to trust men more than women and I consider the sexism debate moot, so this is a bitter pill to swallow.

It's been a serious week. I promise not to return until my glass is half full again.


Blogger Barbara said...

Omygosh, Andrea! Toning down your palette to conform? Eeeeeek! I hope you will follow your heart and carry on in your distinctive style so that we may continue to be thrilled by your amazing colours and symbology.

Keep up the excellent work and try another gallery.


30/6/06 12:17 p.m.  
Blogger Janet said...

If you conform to fit in, you won't be you...not a good thing!

30/6/06 12:37 p.m.  
Blogger Toni said...

Hopefully the news I gave you made your glass half full if not more tonight. But I will let you tell the world unless you want me to.

I am beginning to believe that we need to paint what we are attracked to, like, inspired by and so forth. then find the market that will be attracked to our work. When i look at artists who are successful I then look at who is marketing them or how they are marketing themselves.
If a gallery isn't excited about your work it won't sell well. you need to find a gallery that not only finds your work exciting but also loves art. This is what I like about Kathy she is passionate about art and will only take on artists that she feels she can sell their work.

Hope all this helps

30/6/06 5:42 p.m.  
Blogger carla said...

Think about why humans have been driven to create certainly doesn't have to do with creating a product. Think about your own history as an artist, your earliest memory of being attracted to color and line and shape and wanting to make a visual response. There was a need to create and a joy in creating. If you stray from that, how can you really be happy? Toning down your palette? Modifying your style? Please don't. Your work is unique and incredibly beautiful...eloquent and elemental. You aren't pigheaded in wanting to stay true to yourself! Toni is right... you need to find galleries that love what you do (and I am guessing at what her good news was...that should be very encouraging). Have you tried expanding your horizons a bit...perhaps to other areas of Canada or the US?

Ah...before I sign off to contemplate this week's IF topic... I love this new painting. It has such an amazing glow, almost like that unearthly light that comes before a thunderstorm...and the seed pods look as if they're swirling in the wind.

30/6/06 6:07 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Barbara: Thank you. I think I need a good slap. GJ wasn't the disappointment, though on re-reading it I could see how it might be interpreted that way.

Janet: We are all individuals! :)

Toni: There's nothing more satisfying than selling a painting or four. You made my day!!

Carla: More slaps please! The pep talks make a world of difference. As for gallery submissions, I haven't applied for quite awhile, but plan to once this series has a few more paintings in it. I will *definitely* need a pep talk then so will be back to whine here again. :)

30/6/06 8:05 p.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

In reality, you probably wouldn't be able to sustain an artificial path anyway so once again all is well and your faith is restored by people who love you for who you are and what you really do and need to do! Cogratulations on your sales that always helps to restore the faith too!!!

30/6/06 10:41 p.m.  
Blogger Delaleuverses said...

Your blog is fascinating, I love the colors and imagery, especially this one here is amazing

1/7/06 6:29 a.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

Andrea - this is beautiful, and very 'soulful' feeling. If you *were* trying to conform, you would lose the heart element - and then what's the point? (Is that possibly another difference between gender painting? Not that men do not paint soulful work - but it *is* different somehow... Hmmmmmm.... Still thinking about this whole men/women/art thing..)

Glad you are feeling more optimistic! Nothing like a bit of monetary validation!

1/7/06 11:13 a.m.  
Blogger muddy red shoes said...

Stay with it Andrea, I LOVE your colours... in a rush, but will be back xx

2/7/06 11:39 a.m.  
Blogger justin said...

I think it's a fabulous painting, Andrea. Gorgeous colours as usual.
Thinking about the dour paintings that other galleries seem to like, I guess they must be selling well or the owners wouldn't have them on the walls. So, it's boils down to whether you want to be a "commercial" artist, and just produce stuff that's currently selling, or if you prefer to do your own thing.
I think writers face the same predicament - should I write a pot-boiler, Mills and Boone style, or something truly original but which may never be published. Sorry if I sound patronising - as you will know all this already, but it's something that goes through my mind from time to time, as some day I'd like to write for children, if I hit upon an original idea like Harry Potter.

3/7/06 1:18 a.m.  
Blogger HildaRose said...

Art is not about conforming (as so many people have told you). Listen. Do your thing. It is beautiful.

3/7/06 3:22 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh hon, I totally get your point. I am so glad the other paintings you had up at a gallery sold. That IS very encouraging. You are an amazing artist and I have no doubt that the next few years will only bring more and more offers. Keep doing what your doing becuase it is awesome!

3/7/06 6:35 a.m.  
Blogger tiffinix said...

This is gorgeous - don't conform - and it is a bitter pill a damn bitter pill! But it is women artists like you that are keeping the way paved!

9/7/06 10:13 a.m.  
Anonymous Kaya said...

Your work blows me away, I just love the larger canvases you're doing, please don't ever change your style to please some silly gallery. I live close to gallery Jones and have stopped in a couple of times. Their artists are often dead, which is another thing that bothers me. Where are the women? Where are the live artists who are working right now? Anyway, a thought provoking post. And congrats on selling, us on the net never had a doubt about that.

14/7/06 10:22 a.m.  

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