Honest Thoughts On Social Media Art and My New Works

Social media has been great for getting my work out there and getting opinions from all sorts of people, but on the other side of the coin, it could be quite jarring sometimes especially when it comes to experimenting with a different style.

I suppose it has always been the case for artists who are represented by galleries or institutional recongisitions. That after you have established your style and audience, people start to worry if your work would still impress and sell to the audience that you've previously established.

So, in that sense, experience that pressure from Instagram is really an early reflection of how the art world, or the general creative industry works. It runs on expectations and predictability to ensure maximum exposure and gains.

With the work that I've been doing since the beginning of my professional art journey I would say in May, I have creating works that are in between the fields of fine art and illustrations. I do not really think that the work I have been producing has the depth that I have been longing to have, especially after years of creating art that has high concept when I was in art school. 

I loved the work that i did during the pandemic, it's been great. The following I have been able to build, it's been fabolous, absolutely wonderful. Though I feel it in my bones that it is time for the next stage. The question for myself has been how do I mobilise my work to a place where it starts to ask questions about itself. As in what makes the painting relevant nowadays as a piece of painting?

The most prominent thing that has always stood out to me is painting as a form of image especially during a time when everywhere we look we see images. We cannot escape them. They are trying to send us messages, whatever they may be, from products to political propaganda. Images have that power to them to mobilise people.

So again, my question to myself is : what kind of message do I want to send out? What am I trying to say with my work?

I am not against the image, yet I am skeptical of the image. And when it comes to the language of painting, the art market (online and offline) is so saturated that when some people see paintings they go 'ugh paintings, sick of seeing another one.' (the phase I went through when I studied art), it becomes so burdened, especially when it comes to classical paintings.

On the other hand, what's been on the raise as I have observed on social media, are process videos of paintings (like drip paintings) and heavily textured paintings. This makes sense as they are very difficult to achieve with 3D rendering technologies and it's just not the same.

texture painting reference 2texture painting reference 1

I'm not aware of this until I start writing this blog - it comes apparent to me that I want my work to bring these phenomenons together. Old classical masterful paintings that are becoming obsolete and next form of modern art, "Insta-art".

test painting #2 referencetest painting #2

(Left) Painting by Adam Riches (Right) Experimental work inspired by Riches

With the first piece of experimental work I did, I was heavily inspired by abstract portraiture. It was incorporating painting techniques that I was toying with, mixing different medium with oil paint, e.g. flour and egg yolk. This work really freed me from the realistic and accurate approach and there still unforeseeable things that I think work is trying to communicate. Though, at the moment it feels very tired down to the style I think I have created for myself. The black and gold aesthetic with the textured paste and spray paint. This might not be a bad thing but I don't know if it speaking to me.

painting test 1 referencePainting test #1

(Left) Painting by Adam Riches (Right) Experimental work inspired by Riches

Then I moved on to trying to keeping my realistic approach and the textured paint techniques. It had a great response on Instagram and it seems like it had stroke a cord, probably because of the highly texture quality that i was speaking of. Though one critical thing for me to not do, is a) not to get carried away by Instagram likes and b) to be as far away from Henrik Uldalen's work as possible, as I have been heavily inspired by his work. Maybe that's ok, but I think it's time for me to have my own thing going on for the new series as I would probably feel I have been creating in someone else's lens and again, feeling like I have yet to find 'my own thing'.

texture painting reference 3

(Above) Painting by Henrik Uldalen

After 2-3 weeks of 'I have no idea what I'm supposed to do' I started rethinking about what it is that my work does  that none of the artists I have looking at, do. Most of the work I have been looking at quite depressing and gloomy looking, though that's something I'm fascinated by. My friend who has known my work for the last decade, said the energy I give off as a person has always been confident and a source of empowerment. She reminded me of a piece of work I did when I was in college, which I have long forgotten, that captured a sense of wittiness of a dear friend of hers that had passed away, through movement and colours.

I never thought of my work or even myself that way. I have been so focused on the pain from feeling a perpetually lonely as a creative and trying to put that on the canvas. I've ignored the side of me that is fun and energetic. It like I have two sides of me that is governed by two polar opposite forces. Maybe that's what I should express with my work, maybe the dichotomies of:

  • Classical art & "Insta-Pop art"
  • Dark & Empowering energies
  • Flatness & Textures
  • Realistic & Abstract

With the new series of work I want to focus on creating a sense of movement with my brush strokes and also making under represented minority the subject in my work. This has always been something that I am passionate about and the more I focus my research on this, the more it becomes apparent that whenever the idea of race comes into art, it automatically becomes the theme or totality of the artwork.

On this note, I want the artwork to portrait black or Asian or Muslim person in classical style (which the subjects are often white) and normalise the idea by asking the question: is it odd to see a a muslim wearing a burqa in the form of classical sculpiture/ art in general? And to reflecting on the reason why it took us so long to accept and embrace all walks of life with all sort of background.

inspiration background 1burn eye artwork reference

(Left) Painting by Janna Watson (Right) a burning effect under a person's eye - a effect I'm fascinated by, maybe I can do something similar on the painting.

new painting image 1 new painting image 2

(above) first stage of the new work. (below) a mock-up of how I imagine the work to look like.

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