Monday, January 25, 2010

A good bowl of chili

Cooking and drawing involve the same creative juices, for sure.

A chef friend was telling me about a new approach he has adopted, in which he is less concerned with subtleties that aren’t really apparent. Adding a pinch of dill seeds to chili, for example, really served no other purpose than to make him feel sophisticated. Now he prefers to bring out the more prominent flavors in a tasty, surprising balance that’s just as subtle – and less sneaky. Playing more daringly with the cinnamon in the chili, for example.

In drawing too, it is a sign of true sophistication to be able to pare down on hidden techniques, dabbing and other unnecessary mark-making and go boldly into essential line work or swaths of color instead. My opinion of course.

This is true for other media as well: in video, hiding fecklessness behind transitions and effects; in sculpture or installation, incorporating objects or materials that require explanation or historical knowledge.

This is not to say that art must not be complex or have layers – or that art doesn’t have meaning that the artist does not intend. Of course not. It’s more about being aware of these layers and choosing to have them.

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