When I just graduated from art school life seemed easy. I would make art in my work room, bring it to a gallery and the gallery would sell it.
Things are a bit different nowadays. I am my own vendor and sell my work at the market. And guess what: that’s lots of fun. People look at my work and I am able to explain what I do, how a certain technique works, why I am doing this, what I want my work to express, why I became a sculptor. And people can tell me what they like about my sculptures and why. When I still sold my work through galleries I had no contact with my buyers at all. People who bought something made me a compliment by the purchase. The owner of the gallery told her customers what “this sculptor” wanted to reveal with her work. She then told them her own opinion of the work and why she had it in her gallery.
Trying to fathom a work of art can be quite challenging. Especially endeavouring to connect with it, feel affected or even be moved by it. Any form of guidance can be helpful, such as a title, the explanation of a similar piece by the same artist or a small story. Sculptures communicate through imagery and we happen to be more familiar with verbal interaction. So in order to really grasp the context of the statue a certain susceptibility to symbolism is required. But even though developing a fluency in visual language can be arduous don’t be discouraged, you can start practicing at any moment. And just like other foreign languages it can be really demanding when you start, so the use of words can help you. This used to be the task of the gallery owner and now I do that myself.
Being my own merchant at the market also yields interesting conversations regarding art or philosophy and what people do or do not like about my work. And their reaction isn’t always verbal. The other day a small girl walked past my stall and she caressed four portraits one by one. It was an endearing sight and she promptly left without saying a single word. But the urge to touch something is a compliment. I like the fact that someone feels herself bodily drawn towards my work. It doesn’t bother me that she used an unusual sensor to express her attraction. I recognize that feeling. When I see a beautiful statue I too want to stroke it. And more often than not that is not allowed. Nice to know that permission is granted at my stall!
Talking about art is always a pleasure. About the essence of beauty and why that is important to somebody. That’s what I like about the market. People look at and talk about my work.