Contemporary Art and Me

In my latest video, I talk a lot about an exhibition in my hometown called "Does All Beauty Cease To Exist After You Die?" by Denmark-based artist Eamon O'Kane. In it, I mention briefly why I love art and why I love going to art museums and dissecting contemporary artworks. However, aside from watching videos from channels like TheArtAssignment, and aside from doing some art-related courses on KhanAcademy, I have never really had any form of education when it came to art.


The link between my love for Art and my love for English is unbreakable. As I said in the video, I fell head-over-heels in love with English when I was doing it for the Junior Cert. I loved reading poetry and dissecting it, and trying to figure out what the poet is trying to communicate. I saw poetry as a time capsule, a way for us to get a glimpse in the lives of people who lived decades if not hundreds of years ago, a way for us to understand their thoughts. After a couple of years of doing this, I realised that a poem has a different interpretation to every reader. The way that an individual understands a poem is defined by that individual's own experiences and beliefs. In a way, a poem says more about the reader than about the poet.

I started going to art galleries when I heard that a friend of mine was volunteering at the Butler Gallery. Prior to this, the art gallery was a very intimidating place for me. There was a picture in my head of very rich people in an empty room holding flutes of champagne talking about art in a faux-british accent, their jewelleries clinking as they walk.

But I decided to give it a try. I visited an art gallery one day and left feeling confused. I felt like I didn't know what the significance of the art displayed were, and so I felt like I failed to connect with the artwork. However, inside of me was a hunger to learn more. I started visiting the gallery more often and even volunteered for the Butler Gallery for a few weeks. I read what the artists themselves said about their own art. Gradually, I realised that contemporary art is visual poetry, and has the same effect that poetry has. However, where poetry is a link to how people lived in the past, I saw contemporary art as a snapshot of how people live now.

Eventually, I moved to Dublin and immersed myself with even more art. This is made simple by the fact that there is an art gallery or an exhibit at every turn. I also started watching The Art Assignment. I learned so much more about contemporary artists and the tools I can use to expose myself to even more art.

I know that I still have so much to learn about contemporary art, even art in general. I don't think that I will ever think of myself as a professional art critic or anything of that sort. The only thing that I do know and I do cherish is that art to me is a way of gaining an insight about other people's lives. Like many other media, I see contemporary art as an exercise in empathy. And what is life without a little bit of empathy?



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