Sydney Harbour by Ken Rasmussen - Oil Painting on Canvas

Sydney Harbour by Ken Rasmussen – 1200 x 1200 mm Oil on Canvas

As a young man, I used to get angry about modern art. I think that was because I didn’t really understand it.

I’d wonder, what does minimalist and monochromatic painting mean? Where does it come from and who wants it? There seemed so little in it and so little that one can say about its qualities.

It often seemed to be deliberately presenting unidentifiable things. It didn’t generate words or thoughts. I couldn’t read it in terms linear or atmospheric perspective.  I just couldn’t find a way to relate to it.

If it’s just paint on canvas, it’s not even texture. Maybe it’s meant to function as an illustration. A lot of paintings are never meant to be seen in real life. They’re meant to only be seen as a reproduction.

I don’t want to be dismissive of this style of art. I like painting. Just because I struggle to find meaning doesn’t necessarily invalidate it. I don’t believe it is a conspiracy. I can see that it does have an elegance and a beauty.

I came across an argument that modern art is intended to function as decoration in modern interiors. It just whispers because you don’t read it. It doesn’t talk to you.

It just sits there flatly and everything that it contains is just sitting there on the surface. It’s there when you want it and when you look at it. In this way, it is just self-referential. It only talks about itself. Essentially it is intended as a panel that just shuts up.

There was something about that explanation that calmed me down. It made sense that this art form was all about being quiet and non-engaging. I’m still mystified about why you’d want to strip things back to that level, but maybe that’s just personal taste.

I’m more drawn to things that have life and engagement. I enjoy passionate colours and playful interesting perspectives. Art for me is a celebration of life.  I think it is wonderful when art speaks to you and I just love the rich conversation that often follows.

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