It’s all about looking at stuff…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s confused film stars are: Deppy John, and Anifer Jeniston.

The other day I was sitting in the cafe thinking…
‘Thinking’s good Dave!’
Hm, I know, I was thinking about those photos I take which I call This is Not Art, you may have seen one or two of them.
‘No, afraid not, What are they like?’
Well, they are usually pictures of mundane everyday things, often ripped posters, rubbish, discarded bit of wood, that sort of thing, which could, if seen in the right context…
‘Context Dave?’
Hm, yes, in say, a posh white-walled gallery in a trendy part of town, would look just like a piece of art.
‘Just like?’
Yes, could easily be mistaken for… Sometimes when I show one of my TINA things…
Yes, TINA, my This is Not Art things, on my blog I often say, ‘I’ve seen many far less interesting things on gallery walls.’ You see, since painting and sculpture went abstract…
‘When was that Dave?’
Oh, I don’t know, maybe, er, the 1900s, 1920s – anyway it doesn’t really matter when – of course Turner, he was nearly abstract wasn’t he?’
‘Was he?’
No, anyway before that time you couldn’t really mistake a painting or a sculpture for a real thing, could you? And I suppose back then you wouldn’t hear someone who was looking at a piece of art say, ‘I don’t know what this thing is…’ I reckon even those cave people staring up at an image of a bison or an antelope that their mate had just knocked up on the cave wall using a burnt stick didn’t have any trouble knowing what they were looking at…
‘So, it works both ways then?’
Eh? Oh, yes, art used to try to look like bits of the reality – people, animals, trees, sky, clouds, and stuff like that.
‘And angels and gods?’
Er, oh, I suppose so, but after abstraction happened bits of the scruffy real world started looking like abstract art – things started coming together. I remember, when I was young, on my foundation course at art school…
‘Back in the early 20th c.?’
Fuck off! I’m not that old! No, but the one valuable thing I learned was…
‘How to make money out of art?’
No, certainly not! It was, to look at stuff, to keep your eyes open, to observe, to look at nature, to look at everything, to be curious, to look at beautiful things, to look at ugly things…
‘Gosh, is that the time, I have an appointment at the hairdressers at two o’clock!’
Who was it, who remarked back in Renaissance times, was it Vasari, or Leonardo?
‘I don’t know.’
He said how interesting and beautiful were the colours and marks of the mould growing on the wall, where the people regularly pissed…
Oh yes, I believe so, you see, observation is the key! Artists who miss out on learning to observe the world around them have no choice but to look inwards instead!
Yes, all their art is about themselves – poor desperate buggers! Being a good artist, of whatever kind, is about looking, observing – good photography is about seeing and composing the picture in your head before you even get your camera out – good comedy isn’t about the comedian, it’s about closely observing other people – humanity…
‘Have you finished?’
No – you see when I do a  TINA picture, what I’m doing is inviting the viewer to share the experience of looking, looking at the form, texture, colour, all around us, by showing them just a little bit of it, that I have spotted…
‘Hm, I think I’ll have to be going now.’
Good luck with your hair – it certainly needs a bit of attention…
‘Look Dave! Just keep your, your observations, to yourself!…’
Right ho…


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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3 Responses to It’s all about looking at stuff…

  1. Sharon Mann says:

    Interesting conversation Dave….keep the observations coming. Have you seen the photography of Garry Winogrand, he might interest you.

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