Among the most frequent emails I receive are those with the phrase ‘What does this painting/drawing mean?’ with an attached image of something I’ve posted on facebook or this website. I’ve stated before that the reasons behind my work are various and that they frequently change during the process of the work being made. Informed by the news media, my previous work, the work of others in all creative fields, life in general and my imagination it is difficult to reply with any clarity – particularly if it is an older drawing or painting.
If I wanted to produce something with a singular clarity of interpretation then I would be very careful in its construction to enable that.
So I’m not being intentionally awkward when I’m intentionally silent on this subject. If I dish out the ‘official’ reading of any piece of my work I am potentially undermining other readings that are more pertinent to any individual viewer. I am doing my job in expressing myself and that expression is my business. The viewer’s job is to find within that work the elements that mean something to them and it’s an equally valid part of the relationship between artist and audience. Visual art with a clear and simply read message is either advertising or propaganda. All art should be rich enough to support a diversity of interpretations – all equally valid to its potentially socially and culturally diverse audience.