Leopard's Blue Glare by Lynne Hurd Bryant
Art used to be relevant to life. Look at Vermeer and his lustrous portraits of women working in the home, or at other "women's" tasks. It was relevant to his surroundings, to the life and times of the artist and his models. Even centuries later, his paintings provoke an emotional response. Many people think this is because of their luminous beauty, but the truth is that this emotional connection is about its relevance.
Today, most artists don't paint what is relevant to their life and times. We paint emotional voids in our quest to reproduce the dwindling beauty of the nature around us. I look at my own work and have long felt that the missing piece is emotion and drama that might better connect my work to the viewer. This is not so. There is plenty of movement, texture and emotion in my work, but it lacks relevance.
My latest piece, "Leopard's Blue Glare", made a relevant emotional impact in a way I didn't foresee. I have a list of collectors who routinely receive emails of my latest paintings. This piece was sent around the day that big cats and other "exotic" animals were senselessly killed in Ohio. One collector responded to my email with intense anger about the incident, and praise for the beauty of the painting that drove home the slaughter in real terms. The eyes of this leopard are riveting, and when viewed through this tragedy, seem to speak volumes.
The emotion I felt was lacking in my work doesn't belong to me, it belongs to the viewer. What is art without an emotional impact? Certainly, grotesque and shocking artwork elicits a strong response, but what about beauty? Shouldn't beauty bring about an equally strong response? Beauty for its own sake is not relevant in this topsy turvy 21st Century world. Surely art has to recognize this, and if it is to be an oasis, then let it be one that connects to this time and to this place.