Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Sharpen your judgement and discover your tastes

Expose yourself to a vast sample of works and styles. Finding what you like is interesting, but study what you don’t like and you will learn as much if not more.

When you are studying works that you like, take the time to note the attributes that move you and try to understand why. Capture the emotion first before you try to understand. This way, you will discover what makes to “tick”.

When you come across a work you don’t like, don’t just overlook it and go to the next one. Overcome your prejudice and approach the work with an open mind. Note the elements you dislike. Then, do as parents would do with their children and work hard to find as many qualities as you can in this work. Challenge your assumptions. The reason to do that is to force yourself to go beyond the superficial rejection.

One of the reason you don’t like a particular work may be that you are not prepared for it or you are not “in the mood”. What I mean by this is that our tastes are not static, they evolve over time. I used to dislike bebop jazz, finding it too brisk and dense. A few years later, I listen to Charlie Parker with pleasure. I have listened to many jazz musicians from the period before and after bebop, read about it, studied the genre and have learnt to appreciate it in the process. This form of music has grown on me.

You need to give time to art. The music albums I prefer are not the ones I appreciated when I played them for the first time. It’s only after the fourth or fifth time that I really embraced their richness and originality. In the same way, go back several times to galleries and museum as each visit will enrich your previous experience.

Attend non-professional shows. Don’t skip the “bad works” (the quotation marks are here because what is “good” or “bad” is highly subjective). Review them and think about why you think they are bad works. How would you have done differently? Is it the subject? The composition? The colours?

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