I visited the Art Gallery of South Australia a couple of weeks ago and was pleased to find some interesting and engaging works amongst the many works that seemed much less interesting. That's the thing with art though isn't it? What one likes another may despise, or what a person judges as groundbreaking and creative another may find boring, childlike or ugly. It's probably fair to say that art, and people's perception of it is, at least as varied as those of us who observe it.
I've written a couple of posts about my trip to the art gallery; You can see them here and also here. I have a couple more to write however today thought I'd write about the piece you see here in this post instead.
I didn't have to travel far to find this piece; It hangs in my home; A window to a never-changing scene...Sometimes I find myself wanting to crawl through to walk upon this beach, feel cool waters lapping at my feet, the salty sea breeze on my face, tousling my hair with the echos of rolling thunder announcing an impending tropical downpour...The cool thing is that I have indeed walked on this beach, as have most of my family at some stage or another.
The painting is large, over 1.5m x 1.0m - an acrylic on canvas work. It depicts a scene in Far North Queensland, Australia and I'm proud to say was painted by my father.
My dad has been an artist all his life, is published, and has artworks spread around the world, hanging in private collections mainly. It was his talent that brought him to Australia for a national exhibition tour in conjunction with a keynote-speaking tour at Universities, art gallery's, on radio and television. It was the mid-1960's. It was at one such speaking commitment where he met my mum and the rest, as they say, is history. In truth though history is still being made through the lives of his children and our families.
I recall the family convincing my dad to paint this; He was reluctant but obviously caved in and did so; He had been commissioned by a man to paint a large piece of a similar nature although with the inclusion of the man's daughter walking half way up the beach you see. She was turned away from the observer, blonde hair flowing on that sea breeze I mentioned, and wearing a yellow bikini. It was a stunning piece of work, somewhat larger than mine and completely captivating. I believe it was far better than my version too; It left a person feeling like they could reach inside, become immersed. Unfortunately it was a commission, a costly one, and now hangs somewhere prominently and hopefully greatly appreciated.
My dad painted this one with no intention of selling it out of the family and it is now mine and Faith's. My dad painted it differently than the original not wanting two similar paintings out there, and omitted the bikini-girl. We cherish it, and barely a day goes by in which I don't look at it and appreciate my dad's skill and the way he made this simple scene come to life.
I'm sorry but the image probably doesn't do the painting much justice as a lot of the detail doesn't come through and I believe the size of the piece in real life adds to the overall effect - However you may get the idea I guess.
If any of you have been to Cairns, Queensland the scene may feel familiar and you'd be right in that feeling. Whilst it's not an exact depiction of what my dad saw it captures the essence of the tropical location, the way the land captures and folds clouds upon themselves to create heavy tropical rain and amazingly detailed cloud formations. It shows the islands covered in dense rainforest off the coast, pristine beaches and of course the lovely blue-green waters.
My dad spent many years living in this area and has works that depict scenes from in and around the city including the rainforest, marina, various nautical-themed pieces and of course the creeks, rivers and ocean. He even delved beneath the waves to paint the Great Barrier Reef - Also in my personal collection, which I will show you some other time.
Lamentably my father doesn't paint anymore. He has been struck down with dementia and resides in a nursing home near where I live. We encouraged him to continue painting initially, which he did, however he lost interest about 18 months ago and ceased to paint. I have his last-ever painting and whilst it's far better than I could ever do it is a far leap from his best work. I will retain it for posterity's sake of course and pass it over to those will come after me, my nieces and nephew.
Dad struggles to remember who I am mostly now - I prompt him and see a spark of recognition however it doesn't last long. We repeat conversations over and over and he tells me about my mum who passed away in 2004 after a fight with cancer. He forgets that I knew who she was I think. It's sad to see him like this, just a pale shadow of his former self although not all is lost. His spirit lives in his artwork and all I have to do is take a look at one of the paintings and that familiar man with paint brushes in his hand is with me again.
I wouldn't call myself qualified to judge art, have not studied it and simply go by what I think looks good, what resonates with me, captures my interest. Obviously with my dad's work I'm a little biased, although having said that there's some I don't find interesting at all - Some of his abstract works come to mind.
What I am highly qualified in is being my dad's son and as such I cherish and value his works, all of them. I hold a selection of paintings on behalf of two of my brothers who are not in a position to keep them personally at this stage. I had my father, some three or so years ago, go through all of his work that remained with the family and select who he wanted each piece to go to. So, we all have a selection and something to pass along to future generations.
I don't care if people like his work or not, probably in the same way an artist whose work is exhibited in the art gallery would not care if I liked his or her work in turn. It means something to me though and in my humble opinion that's the whole point of art.
My dad's art brings memories of times past, good and bad; Just life in general. My father's brushstrokes are some of my most treasured possessions. They provide a connection of sorts I guess. They will all pass to another at some stage, maybe @smallsteps or my nephew, both currently very young, and I look forward to ensuring they know the story of the man who created it; Their grandfather.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default