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  • Writer's picturePaul Pigram

What is a Conceptual Artist?

There are probably as many different ‘conceptual’ artists as there are leaves on a tree but many of them would not consider themselves to be so!

So what is a conceptual artist?

A concept is something that is conceived in the mind, an idea or a theory, so conceptual art is art that is developed from the artist’s intellectual or emotional response to something.

Conceptual art can be and can look like almost anything. This is because unlike a painter who will think, ‘how can I paint that tree?’; a conceptual artist uses whatever materials and whatever form is most effective at putting their idea across, ‘how can I show my feelings when I walking through a forest?’.

I sketch but use more then just the visual sense, I close my eyes and draw the sounds around me and the smells. I sit and meditate in the landscape, running my hands through the soil, grass or sand. I often use my non-dominant hand. All these are ways of tapping into the sub-conscious and unconscious mind.

If I explain the development my last body of work, ‘The Lost Family’ it might make more sense. I did not begin with the notion of painting my deceased family, the concept for the art work developed unconsciously when I spent time going through old photographs and trying to remember time spent with various members of my family. When I looked at photographs from my early childhood and had no memory of what I had felt or experienced.

This experience produced feelings of sadness, and a longing to recall the happy times. I tried to show this in the paintings through an exploration the themes of the myth of the ideal childhood, the temporary dreamlike quality of reality and an unconscious search for something lost.

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