When I was a student at Art School in Tasmania (last century) I was strongly drawn to simplified, hard-edged abstract art, particularly in painting. Maybe I ‘peaked’ too soon, as 10 years later I was deep into landscape realism, a more ‘commercial’ form of art that saw red dots appear from time to time.
Nothing has changed in that the commercial worth of abstraction is close to nil in this country, unless you show in a prestigious gallery that thrives on highly intellectual artists’ statements and artwork that leaves many patrons either in awe or aghast. It’s truly a fickle market where art (I consider) that varies from brilliant to total rubbish can be lauded to the hilt, while other artists slowly starve. Where has the honesty and sincerity in art gone? Since when does an artist’s statement carry more weight than the artwork itself?
I’m in the third year of working on the Australian mainland after leaving my home state of Tasmania in 2016. I have produced a body of work using coloured pencils that I consider the best collection of ‘contemporary’ drawings that I have ever done. Nobody wants to buy any of them. Is my work crap or do people hate anything in coloured pencil, considering it to be an inferior art medium? I have been a finalist in a couple of national art awards lately and a judges’ commendation, but red dots have all but eluded me. I now have a second website: http://www.richardklekociuk.com but I’ve yet to sell any of the work listed.
My last show (February) in my represented gallery in Tasmania (Gallery Pejean) was a flop with only 2 being sold. I can’t go on producing art that will spend the rest of its life in a folder. This chapter has now closed.
After a good deal of thought that included either retiring from art altogether and taking up photography, ceasing coloured pencil drawing and a return to painting, or renew my love for sculpture, draw exclusively in pen (something I really enjoy, but have yet to ‘test’ commercially) or simply letting go of almost 50 years of art and ‘retiring’, I decided to continue with coloured pencils while I was still residing in New South Wales ( my wife and I intend to return to Tasmania in Jan 2020). This was not an easy decision to make and even though I’ve made my choice, it’s not ‘locked in’.Some of my contemporary drawings. (each approx 60 x 80 cms)
There comes a time when an artist needs to ask themselves ‘why am I doing art?’ Is it for pleasure?, for money?, something to do?, relaxation? Whatever the reason, one thing is glaringly obvious; how do you pay for your art materials? I simply can’t go on funding my obsession for art without some form of financial return; simple, but true for so many artists. The answer?
I have decided to return to the simplified, hard-edged landscapes that I was producing from 2014 – 2016. Not only did I enjoy this style of drawing, but I enjoyed an excellent return sales-wise. Maybe this is where I need to be.
I have 2 major exhibitions next year at Port Macquarie and (hopefully) 2 group shows at Gallery Pejean in Launceston. I simply can’t afford to keep funding exhibitions that don’t reward me financially in some way. Time will tell whether this change in direction has been the right one to make.
Some may consider that I have ‘sold my soul’, but I’m being realistic. One can be constantly praised for their art, but praise has never and will never pay for art materials.