Saturday, 24 January 2009

Survivor of the Interchange

My mother recently bought us a work of art – an etching by Piers Browne, entitled Survivor of the Interchange (see picture: in real life it's about two feet high). Buying art for other people is a pretty dangerous business: you can never be absolutely sure what they would or wouldn't like, and the lucky recipient is hardly in a position to say they don't like it!
In this case, the gamble paid off. I can't stop looking at it: I think it's a wonderful thing, and it has set me thinking about what I like and don't like in art.
I find it hard to be dogmatic. It's easy to pigeon-hole the arts into different schools and movements: a lot of it went on in the twentieth century and both creative artists and critics were guilty of it. It can so easily create a climate in which, before you realise it, you feel there are things you should or shouldn't like. This is the downside of criticism and gets in the way of whatever it is an artist is trying to communicate. Of course, it's fair to say that the artistic surprises of the twentieth century stretched the patience of the critic to the limit but, as Addison famously put it (he was talking about literature), “a true critic ought to dwell upon excellencies rather than imperfections, to discover the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as are worth their observation”.
Piers Browne's work is a million miles away (well, probably about 50) from the fashionable contemporary art on display in, say, the Baltic in Gateshead (somewhere I enjoy visiting, incidentally), but I refuse to take sides. There will be those who think it's archaic, and those who think it's just the sort of thing art should be getting back to. A plague on both their houses. It's art, and it's wonderful.

There are more Piers Browne art works to be seen on his website. He is currently working on a children's book, Freya, due out in 2010.


Poet in Residence said...

This morning I found something. It's smaller than a chicken's egg which it resembles in shape. It's green and it was lying on the path under the two giant sequoia trees in our local park. It's a tree's egg then. It's the fruit of a giant sequoia tree and it fits neatly into my cupped hand. It's also, as I see it, a work of art.
Your picture looks good small and becomes dramatic when enlarged with a click on the computer screen. I like it. What size is it?
By the way, Dominic, I'm a great fan of the strange world of synchronicity. The code I need to imput to post this note is 'hercu', the first letters of hercules, the pillars, twin sequoia trees. Is that synchronious or merely coincidence, do you think?

Totalfeckineejit said...

Thats a great picture Dominic, there's nothing like a real piece of art living and breathing on the walls of your home.Get the right one and it will bring pleasure everyday.I must check-out yer man's website.We came across a postcard sized pencil sketch of a small boat with sails by Jack B yeats at auction with a guide price of €400.Now being the even poorer relations of church mice this was gonna be a credit card job and a push at that, but what an opportunity.We thought no-one else might have noticed it but of course they did and it went for over €2000 on the day.We couldn't buy it but oh! how I wish we had, it would have been worth every cent to have it on the wall. I'll never forget it.

BarbaraS said...

Wow. I love it and lucky you that your mum picked this out for you! How could you not be impressed with a picture like this, though.

Sorlil said...

It's gorgeous, lucky you!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Speaking as your mother, it wasn't entirely guesswork that you would like it - you already own one piece of Piers's work and I knew you both admired his stuff. Nevertheless - I agree with you - sonmetimes it is better not to read the critics - either a piece of art hits you where it matters or it doesn't and if you are buying it then that is all you should take into consideration.

Rachel Fox said...

I agree with you about the dogmatic business...I was quite sure of some things when I was about 18 but I get less dogmatic with every year that passes! It's a great relief. And I have less and less time for the whole world of criticism.

And it's a wonderful picture.


Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone. The sequoia artefact sounds fascinating. The picture is about 2ft by 1ft.
It would be good to have a Jack B Yeats to look at. I have a similar regret: I once owned an autograph of the composer, Olivier Messiaen - just two bars of music, written on a programme by him, and signed. I've lost it! I think it went to the tip, by mistake.
We do own another Piers Browne - a portait of my father called The Artist and his Model.

Anonymous said...

It's a wonderful picture, Dominic - one of those self-renewing pieces that never palls.

Sad that Addison's invocation to critics didn't get much beyond the walls of the KitKat Club!