In the new year I will begin to post criticisms of exhibits at galleries in the Toronto area. So I thought it might be a good idea to begin laying out some parameters for my observations.
When I read journalistic criticism of Art I long for objectivity. It's all very good to give the reader a subjective description. But where is the critical content ?
Criticism of Art can exist in the subjective, but then it's just impertinent, both to the Artist and the Journalist, as it trivializes the relationship of the two. That being said, I believe it incumbent on me to set up a critical process that allows the reader to merit the Art based on an objective point of view.
Objectivity in criticism may to some imply a special knowledge or expertise on the subject matter at hand. There may be some merit to that perspective. However that knowledge need not remain in the purview of the critic. What I am referring to is the use of Artspeak that tends to alienate the uninitiated. It is important that the language of criticism remain common, and that any historical reference have some ground of explanation.
The objective does not though stand on its' own, but is rather the fruition of the critical process. So I will start with the subjective. This examination will be one that discusses the merit of the purely physical facets. As one wanders a gallery you might hear viewers saying things such as : I like the colours, or I don't like the texture. The subjective plays on our immediate sense reactions. It is necessary for even a seasoned Artist to experience this level of reaction. After all to get to the heart one must penetrate the flesh.
The objective however tends to pose a different set of questions. These questions may involve the examination of intent, history, psychology, politicization, fundamentals,(i.e. composition and all that entails), materials, preparation, and presentation.
Objective criticism must above all be clear, and not mottled in uncertainty. Objectivity must be positive in its' position. There must be no doubt in the readers' mind as to the nature of what is being reviewed. However that position must not be with prejudice. It is important that there remains room for dialogue. What this type of criticism is capable of accomplishing though is directing the dialogue toward the constructive nature of objectivity, and breaking the flesh of the subjectivity.