Jonathan Jones has been complaining about the banal way in which Wikipedia covers art and artists. He cites the entry for Goya as an example.
I thought I’d test this by checking out the entry on Patrick Heron, an artist I’d like to think I know a little bit about. Here’s what I found…
Plenty of summary background information, but almost nothing about the art itself.
This can be repaired by pointing towards Andrew Wilson’s excellent essay, Drawing Space in Colour, for the 2008 Heron exhibition at the San Francisco Hackett-Freedman Gallery – the first American exhibition since Heron’s death in 1999.
The problem with amateurs is that they’re (we’re) amateurs. They have the time, but not necessarily the depth. Meanwhile the experts currently have the depth but not the time. Is it a public service to improve Wikipedia entries, or is it just an opportunistic means of getting content for free?
The last few years have seen a deep questioning of the central tenets of the theory of secularisation. Far from growing less religious, as the prophets of the post-war period supposed to be our destiny, the world has become more infused with religious attitudes than ever. It is now intellectually respectable, if not yet fully intelligible, to talk and write about a ‘post-secular’ age. At the same time it is possible to re-examine the high points of the supposedly nonreligious era we have now passed beyond, and see it anew as the site and source of an intense and distinctive spirituality. It is strange for an art collection like the Methodist Church’s Collection of Modern Christian Art to have almost no abstract works in the collection, as though properly religious art could only ever be representational. Yet until recently abstract art was regarded by many religious people as at the vanguard of a world without form, without meaning, and – ultimately – without God. If non-representational art was somehow non-traditional then it was also, so it was feared, non-religious. It is possible now, however to reappraise this view.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Patrick Heron produced a large number of canvases and silkscreen prints on paper, based on bright, interlocking abstract shapes. As though to forestall the possibility of overlooking the artist’s obsession with colour, they had titles such as ‘Blue and deep violet with orange brown and green’.
The following reflections were inspired by a screenprint of Patrick Heron’s at the Tate, which is typical of his work at that time. Perhaps to emphasise its abstract qualities it is titled January 1973:14.
Continue reading “Post-Secular Artist? Nine Reflections on the Art of Patrick Heron”