I recently had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and as I wandered through the numerous galleries and halls, amazed at the breadth and precision of the collection, I had a realization. Or rather, I was reassured of the reasoning behind my love of contemporary art. Contemporary art is messy and complicated, and it often has many interpretations. There is a complexity to it that invites the viewer to think about the meaning, rather than handing forth a simple, pretty picture.
Yet, the paint drips, smudges, texture, and chaos that is frequently found in the art I am so fond of gives me an internal sense of calm. As I wandered the Met I had the epiphany that contemporary art aptly represents the life I have survived, also messy and complicated but with a beautiful patina. I am not a simple, pretty option. I am textured, layered, sometimes complicated, yet beautiful and interesting for the struggles I have survived. Contemporary art reminds me of this.
Today my life has morphed into what can only be defined as a dichotomy. Looking back while moving forward, my experiences are steeped in contradictions. This could explain my love of Basquiat, whose work was based on dichotomies, specifically wealth vs. poverty and integration vs. segregation. It is through the representation of those oppositions that highlights the depth and intrigue of Basquiat’s art. Life is such a beautiful, experimental mess, and like contemporary art, layered in complexity.
We are concerned with the relationship between art and life. Contemporary art is only intelligible in terms of its relationship to our life. -David Elliot