Should We Criticise Any Artist’s Work?

Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 in Thoughts | No Comments

Whilst watching Wim Wender’s wonderful, Oscar nominated Salt of the Earth, about world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado, I started to consider whether we should openly criticise any artist’s work.

Surely I’m being an over-protective gallerist: artists are just doing a job like you and I, or? And, as such, shouldn’t they take our criticism as much as they do our praise?
What eventually swung it for me was the difference an artist’s ‘job’ is to many of ours. If an artist is truly giving their best, every piece of work is an inner journey for them – and I’m referring to emotional art here rather than intellectual art.

Artists look into themselves and use what they find to improve and hone their craft. Many criticise themselves whilst painting, and yet still offer that final result up to a harsh world’s scrutiny like a child would bear their heart… an exceptionally brave thing to do by any adult, knowing how cruel the world can be.

Art has a unique way of moving us all. Sometimes for the better – in which case I say immerse yourself in that beauty and let the magic wash over you – and sometimes for the worse, in a negative way (although I imagine maybe the worse reaction an artists can endure from their public is indifference).

So if a piece of art conjures up a negative emotion, my feeling is we shouldn’t say anything. Reacting negatively is just inviting hate into the world. But moreover, isn’t that piece of art, like most things in life, simply reflecting back to us our own personalities and being a mirror into our on misgivings? And if we want to really get value out of life, maybe we should ask ourselves what it is in that piece of art that is stirring up such strong emotions, rather than criticise the reflection?