It was a quiet Monday evening in Karrivin plaza. A group of people went ahead to Bellas Artes Outpost and were greeted by Bruce Connor: out of the body exhibit. Organizers lead the people to their library and everyone settled within 15 minutes.
The workshop started with attendees telling their reason on taking interest on art criticism. Some as a hobby brought by the love of art and blogging, others are in the field of journalism and creative writing, and most are from Art studios or from a family with business venture on art. Mark Rappolt discussed that anyone can write an art criticism and background is not necessarily needed. He emphasized that in his team, he is the only one who doesn’t have a degree or background in Art History but this doesn’t hinder him to discuss and curate Art Review publications.
Mark Rappolt explained the concept and process on producing Art Review and Art Review Asia. His main dilemma before was to decide on which language to use. He expounded that language is a key to convey authenticity of expression and description. He chooses a language to use for critique depending on which gives more description to the art form and is also uncomplicated to do so. This was his reason for choosing English because it offers more description although he retain words from the native language to convey the expression.
As the workshop continues, Mark Rappolt discussed other aspects he encounter daily with his team in Art Review. He mentioned that it was never his problem to know what to write or critique but it is always his problem which one to remove from the list. An Issue revolves around a theme or concept which you need to bring out in detail and continuously scrutinize when you write an essay about a specific art form. Each piece is to be connected to the other and every write up should essentially investigate the concept. Art Criticism is not about describing an art form but it should evoke curiosity that leads to questions and arguments.
A participant asked how does Mark start his critique, how he looks into the art works? Does he look on the background text or ask for the artist’s story on his own artwork? Mark pointed out that whenever we go to an exhibit, it is best to put aside expectations and have a clear head when we look on to the works. Venture a gallery alone and start formulating your points alone. Art is subjective and so do criticism.
Style on writing a critique usually comes from a writer’s background on art and design in general. However Mark points out that a good critic always works with the artist even if both may disagree in the end. He also said that the writer should always fact- check a work to avoid believing on ego-driven ideas or succumbing to other person’s perspective. Although disagreements are acceptable, writers should always show two sides of the coin to validate argument and become a credible writer.
The discussion lead to asking Mark how he battles a writer’s block. His answer is very unconventional with him saying that he always keeps a list of thoughts or points whenever he goes to a gallery. He makes sure he is confident with his opinions and point of view to avoid further arguments with himself that leads to overthinking. He also suggested to learn from other disciplines and read fiction novels to look for fresh ways to approach art.
Mark also practice restriction on writing. It keeps him on his toes and it helps him reduce mental block. He suggests to use only 500 to 1200 words on his essays. This practice makes him find his rhythm on writing. One should also expect to write an artwork without a possible supporting image on your essay. This is a challenge for writers but it trains the writer to explain his argument and describe the artwork in the purest form.
Mark Rappolt is a visionary in the art industry, with his unconventional and innovative ways of critical writing, he separates himself from others by not focusing on the attention given to himself due to his write ups but more of giving the audience a food for thought.
Who is Mark Rappolt
Mark Rappolt is the Editor-in-Chief of Art Review and Art Review Asia which the latter he started in 2013. He also wrote books about Frank Gehry and Greg Lynn. He also co-curated Like a moth to a Flame with Tom Eccles and Liam Gillick. It is a two part exhibition spanning 4000 years of artistic production at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo which are both in Turin, Italy.
Source: Bellas Artes Project website.