COMMENTARY: Art and the Examined Life


“The Offering” by Richard Bledsoe

The creation of a painting acts as a model of the examined life. What do you see when you look inside? To look at what many contemporary artists offer, you would think they are chock full of lifeless echoes of vapid mass media offerings, vague recyclings of other artists’ ideas, and technical formulas. I don’t believe such limited offerings really reach who they are, and bring it out for the world to see. They’re falling short of the ultimate destination, self knowledge shared as a communion with their fellow humanity. It’s a scary place to head for, and the current mentality of the art establishment discourages it. Exploring the state of the soul is impolite; it doesn’t always look hip and savvy, and is just too raw and genuine for those who hide behind a pseudo-sophisticated façade-and façade is what the elites are all about. But the world within is the only destination worth heading for. Art is the record of that journey.

8 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Art and the Examined Life

  1. Nice painting! Of course, the emerald alligator instantly grabbed my attention. His skin is wonderfully rendered, and the tip of his tail and it’s reflection came out well. I like that there’s a story, with a few possible interpretations. At very first, I thought the gator was going to be eaten, and then I saw the girl being led into the water, and now I think she’s being sacrificed in some sort of ritual. This is probably my favorite of your paintings that I’ve seen and can remember, and oddly enough is a work of art where I’d actually welcome reading a bit more about to find out what’s going on.

    In regards to your rant about contemporary art, lately it seems abundantly clear that what most recognized artists do is try to come up with a gimmick. The gimmick IS the art. And I’m so sick of gimmicks, even if they are good ones. Your art is free of gimmicks, and you try to say your own thing within a long tradition of visual language. It’s refreshing.

  2. Thanks, I appreciate that, and also the way you distinguish between art and gimmickry. There is quite a story in that painting, as well as a symbolic representation of human consciousness, as well as a series of compositional challenges I set for myself. It was my most elaborate painting up until that time. Like in a dream, every detail is significant. Some day I should document my thoughts on what that image means to me. You’re on the right track.

  3. I am a big fan of Richard Bledsoe’s observations of the art scene as well as his paintings.. He is a storyteller and translates his enchanting ideas to canvas in his own authentic style. The Offering challenges the viewer, I want to know what is on the mind of this array of characters? And then I see a whole new cast of characters in the background and ask the same questions. Quite striking. My all time favorite piece is “Among the Fortunate”.

  4. Love your painting and really agree with “Exploring the state of the soul is impolite….” In fact, it seems exploring the state of the soul is a messy, unwelcome business for so many of us–and yet more and more necessary as time goes on. I like how you connect art and looking at life. And thanks for stopping by Dumb Sketch Daily.

  5. The great think about reaching towards the soul in in art is no matter how messy the process is for us imperfect humans, if you can punch through the mess and actually touch the spirit, beauty ensues. Looking forward to more of your drawings!

  6. Thanks! Our entire society is suffering due to the distorted priorities of the administrative classes. It’s time to start calling them out on their failures, and presenting positive alternatives.

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