Artistic merit can be determined by asking at least two simple questions: does the work have something to say, and does it say it well? Students of art grapple with the former – having something to say – their limited life experience doesn’t help. Initiates also grapple with the latter – saying something well. That means finding a suitable medium – oil, acrylic, watercolour, bronze, felt – and learning how to engage with it.
Engaging is not about mastering the medium. Instead, is important to recognise clearly what watercolour wants to do all by itself and learn to collaborate with it, to work in tandem – artist and medium – so that the outcome rewards both. Balance and unity are not just properties of composition but of process as well.
Nothing should be forced, no charade, seeing, feeling, translating directly, no preliminary studies, no pre-drawing or marking out. Composing goes on in the artist’s head just as it might for a composer of music. This kind of forthrightness in contemporary art is rarer than some may think. Many artists feel there is some imperative to hunt down novelty, and believe art is about trends and ideas when perhaps it’s much more about insight. Perception and empathy are key to be authentic.
Stefan Gevers was born in the Netherlands, leaving in 1993 to travel ‘as far away as possible’. He fell in love with Australia, and over the last twenty years has toured extensively, the main inspiration for his work being nature and the landscape. Stefan’s work does not include much evidence of human interaction. Instead, Gevers prefers to locate aspects of the land uncontaminated by human activity. He seeks out these culture-free zones and seem to suggest that they’re worth regarding, worth preserving, if humans are ever to enjoy a dignified future.