Art Is

Art Is
collage collection
95cm x 14cm
found children's art, paper, acrylic, photographic slides

"My kid could've done that!" is often heard in relation to certain abstract and minimalist works of art in galleries. Art Is explores what earns an artwork the right to be viewed as art rather than the result of natural instinct or merely the skilful application of rules and repetition or happy accidents from shallow collisions of chance. A definitive answer to the perplexing question of what art is, has eluded philosophers for centuries and theories and contrasting opinions abound in any attempt to define it.

Art Is, a collection of eight small collage works. Found children's drawings are collaged onto pages taken from Ken Follett's popular fiction book, The Modigliani Scandal. Bright primary colours of red, blue and yellow are dabbed, splashed and dripped across the surface of the children's drawings. Inserted into each piece are photographic slides taken by my father on his European travels in the late 1950s. There's the ruins of a fortress in Germany next to a child's castle of parapets and battlements, the Mona Lisa forms part of the face of a smiling female figure surrounded by sunshine and flowers, Leonardo's flying machines soar in the sky with butterflies and people, Joan of Arc charges into battle against a sharp-toothed monster, the Man Attacked By Genii by Gustav Vigeland confronts the towering figure of whispering death as a mere mortal cowers, a long armed golden-haired maiden reaches out to the armless Venus de Milo and Zeus in Rome sits proudly on his throne next to a triumphant Hulk.

Art Is comments directly on the learned cultural constructs of the artworld and our life-long relationship to creativity. It muses on the “art” of popular fiction vs literature, why paintings and sculpture are “fine art”, the transformation of photography into “art”, the absence of children’s “art” in galleries and the “art” of architecture. Whatever theory of art one favours, Art Is asks the viewer to consider, “What is art?” in a tactile, personal and direct way.