manifestations of sensing

Early on in his book ‘How Art Can Be Thought: A Handbook for Change’ Allan deSouza writes ‘individuals amass data through experience, surveillance, research, investigation, imagination and memory’. Although I agree with this statement generally, in our current age there is also a need to acknowledge ‘the unclear’ and ‘the undefined’ as an important part of contemporary experience as well as art generation, outcomes, documentation and discourse.

Particularly since the 1990s, the art world has emphasised clarity, rationality, definition and precision as signifiers of ‘good’ contemporary art. However, as our local as well as global financial, social, political and environmental systems are driven into ever-increased states of uncertainty the high cost of clarity, definition and precision are becoming too obvious to continue to ignore. Under such conditions, maintaining states of being unfinished and unresolved is a difficult but, I would argue, important part of contemporary practice.

Although approached from a more historical and process/outcome perspective, the 2016 Met Breuer exhibition ‘Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible’ that explored ‘the evolving concept of unfinishedness as essential to understanding art movements from the Renaissance to the present day’ provides significant insights into what stands on the horizon line.

Image: Alice Neel.  James Hunter Black Draftee , 1965. Oil on canvas. COMMA Foundation, Belgium, © The Estate of Alice Neel (detail).

Image: Alice Neel. James Hunter Black Draftee, 1965. Oil on canvas. COMMA Foundation, Belgium, © The Estate of Alice Neel (detail).