Analysis Paralysis

Francis Bacon once said "It's always hopeless to talk about painting - One never does anything but talk around it" and the same goes for photography or any art form.

Unfortunately, the current trend with many galleries is to analyse the exhibits to death, before they've even had an airing.

Is an exhibition incomplete without a statement? Don't get me wrong, many artist's statements make sense, the brief ones more often, but many others are forced or contrived and consequently misleading or meaningless. Then there's the large bold wall posted essay from the curator, gallerist and/or artist - Often under pressure to do so, not to mention the obligatory accompanying talks.

[See for some surprisingly familiar statements]


In theory, there's nothing wrong with any of it, if it doesn't harm the work and enlightens the viewer, but in practice the artist and their art are often misrepresented or sidelined when elaborate nonsensical texts are stuck onto a show or a random invited guest speaker throws a bucket load of gobbledegook together at the last minute - Often at the expense of the artist. Anyone who frequents art openings will have experienced this a lot.


There's another trend in some galleries not to have any speeches at all at the opening/vernissage. I could get used to this. If there's someone willing to speak who really understands the work and is on the same page as the artist, fine, but if not, it's best to do without the speeches and let the vino loosen tongues over the evening. If the work floats your boat, It's usually better to return at a quieter time anyway.


Art should be allowed to breathe and not be boxed in or overshadowed by too much peripheral text. An installation, photograph, drawing, video, painting etc. is not a book. The hint is in the name 'Visual Art'.

With few exceptions, each standalone 'Piece' is 100% complete. The best work really does speak for itself, is it's own statement and supplementary texts, should be kept to an absolute minimum or avoided altogether.


Of course a body of work or singular piece may be written about, reviewed, examined, analysed, dissected and talked about in detail, both privately and publicly, but preferably after it's been given that initial and essential breathing space, with no bells or whistles attached.

We need to stop implanting ideas into people's heads. Art is far too important to be explained.



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