Detail of Dreamer by Adéle du Plessis
This is the criteria we use to judge art we decide to include in our gallery. All inclusion inherently excludes. We are not a gate keeper to the art world, we merely swim in the larger art world that exists and have to demarcate a part of the ocean, lest we drown. The art is judged according to the following criteria that is informed by best practice, technical knowledge, academic training and personal intuition.
Hope this gives collectors and artist some insight into different aspects when thinking about art.
These criteria demarcate the art world, as we understand art at Gallery Sorelle Sciarone
Our art Criteria
We look for paintings. We deal solely in painted art work. Our criteria thereafter pertains to technical dimensions of an art work and qualitative use of technique compositions and materials by the artists.
1. Technical aspects of an art work
We look for art work that fits per dimension in the space of a house, this usually means less than 100 cm x 100 cm. Due to housing constraints and space.
An important technical aspect is also the quality of the material used. Even though many work is on linen, canvas or boards, if a work is on another material, we look at the sturdiness and longevity of the background. Durability and quality are part of the criteria. For examples of work we have received; wood is good, but cardboard box scraps are not. Cardboard, can be used, but art on this should be polished of by being mounted to a sturdy background. The price will be reflect the use of material. So we ask artists to think of the quality of their background.
Needless to say, damaged backgrounds are also basis for rejection of a particular work. Restored works are considered, depending on the final result.
After these criteria have been met, we start looking at the quality of the artist’s work. Usually both aspects are assessed immediately together, but we will reject qualitative painting on an unsuitable background.
2. Qualitative criteria of an art work
2.1. Painting Technique
We look at an artist’s paint technique. There is a difference between an artist who paints and an artist that paints with a qualitative technique. We talk a lot about the democracy of art on our blog, but when it comes to representing an artist we look for artists who have a recognizable technique or style or themes. That does not mean they cannot paint in a wide variety of styles, themes and techniques. But if none of the oeuvre can be linked to each other, it often means the artist is still searching and developing a style. It also usually means that none of the work has progression in technique, because not enough time has been invested in perfecting a style. Or just maybe unsure of their voice. Therefore we always ask artist to send us three works. We look at their whole collection and if we cannot link at least three works, we also reject artists. In any case for the time being. They are welcome to apply again after a time. The technique of an artist is also reflected back in the way they manipulate paint and colour in a work.
2.2 Use of Paint
We also look at the use of material in the art work, in the technical aspect we already looked at the quality of the background an art work is painted on (linen, being the best quality for paintings), but the quality of paint often also has an impact on the quality of the overall radiation of an art work. That does not mean that cheap paint equals cheap work, as we have come far in the technology of paint the last century, but can have influence in the quality of the finished product. We do not prefer oil over acrylic or vice versa. But we do look for an understanding of the technical qualities of paint. The quality of paint can also be influenced by not being familiar with what happens when one mixes paint. The manipulation of paint in the creation of the art work affects the quality. Amateurs often have unintended grey works, here the technique of how colour and physical paint mixes with each other is not completely understood.
How paint is used on a background and over layers influences the overall quality of a work. everything from not prepping the background with a ground layer, not integrating texture or relief elements, small stuff, that have a big impact on the finished work.
The colour blue and ochre are reflected in many of the works. This is due to the peace, stability and energy these colours radiate. We are firm believers in colour theory (and therapy).
Both colours are relaxing and subduing colours. So you will see a lot of rich ochres and blue (green) works in the gallery. Brown and ochre is a solid and warm colour, that radiates simplicity and a solid foundation. The colour is safety and confidence. Blue is on the opposite of the colour spectrum and compliments the brown colour. Blue conveys calmness and peace, but can also stimulate intellectual though process. Blue is loyal, responsible and cooling. These two colours fit in a home in contemporary society where we are almost constantly over stimulated. That being said, these are not the only two colours in the art. Brown can morph into a pale shade of yellow and blue can progress into a cool green. Now there are reds, just not that much.
Red activates, is warm and has the ability to draw you in and overpower you. Red is passionate and dramatic, it is vibrant, energetic and sexual. Red makes you hungry and activates you to do. This colour has less space in a modern home where we are constantly sensory stimulated. So you see red in a much lesser extent in the gallery.
3. Depth and meaning
What does not have to be completely understood by the artists is the depth and layers of an art work. Art works should have several layers embedded in the work. Depth is something that comes from a quality of technique, composition and thought. The artist may know the first layer, and aware of more. We feel there should be several layers of emotion; meaning; sphere should be inherit in an art work. One can often immediately sense these different layers when one is present with an art work. What these layers are, are not always apparent, but makes the art suitable for active contemplation or as background pieces in any home. This is what truly makes an art work an art work. The range a piece has passed its two dimensional technical qualities.
3.2. Romantic and Reflective
We have further constrained the marker of depth by looking for a romantic and reflective character that can be found in a painting. Romantic art is a term used the western art historical canon to art stream from the end 18th century. It was seen as a way to uncover the great mysteries of life. Romanticism could uncover emotion, imagination, and intuition. Nature was especially celebrated as a classroom for self-discovery and learning, the place in which mysteries could be revealed to the mind of man. Romantic art, is lovely with depth of the human understanding. The term Reflective is superfluous together with romantic art, as romantic art is about reflection of the self and society. However reflectiveness is another criteria, as the term is also the act of painting itself. It’s a conscious, thoughtful creation. Meditative is another term used interchangeably with reflective as the creation of the art work should be to an extent thoughtful. Overtly violent or traumatic themes or layers are rejected as these are not what we want to present our clients or have in our homes.
Our criteria of depth and meaning, is difficult to pinpoint what it is in a work. Our art is chosen as they have several layers and does not fall flat. We never just have a pretty picture of a cup or a flower or a tree, without a larger association or emotion. What it is, is not always apparent to the artist, us or even the new owner, often we all see something completely different when we are pressed to express it, but we do feel a work is more than just what you see. Without this, a painted piece just will not bring joy to anyone else except the maker for a short time.
I hope this gives some insight into our process. Some of the examples will seem as overstatement of basics and other examples will only hint at a much greater concept at play.
In the end what we are looking for is art that is at the same time beautiful as it is transcended.
P.S. Let me know what else you want to know about.
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Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs has a popular blog.
Reddotblog.com uses the 'Ask a gallery,' launch point to answer all aspects of the art world and you can find his criteria for his gallery on the blog too.
Brad Blackman writes about art as an artist.