I always insist on introducing myself as a ‘painter’, not as an ‘artist’. This probably strikes some of you as unusual, and I wanted to explain exactly why I do.
Personally, I think that there’s an honesty in painting – and even more so in drawing – that isn’t true of all work that is referred to as ‘visual art’. Now to clarify, when I say ‘painting’, I’m generally referring to some form of realism, be it the hyperrealism of Gottfried Helnwein or the flat shapes of Wayne Thiebaud. As is clear in both of their work, there is an amount of hard work and time one has to invest to become fluent in realism. It is this dedication that speaks volumes of the artist’s character and more importantly develops that character over time. I believe this is where an honesty in artwork originates, in a real commitment to one’s craft. Not, as many do, by trying to make a splash with a clever concept, one that might be exposed as trivial when confronted by the ultimate judge: the test of time.
Experimentation and lack of any formal training in art has led to a total subjectivism. ‘Good’ in art is not defined by any set of objective criteria but by authority; art is declared good because a notable institution or critic has declared it to be so.