Grayson Perry: Well, not instantly. That's the mistake people make, that you're going to walk into an art gallery and have a fantastic time the first time. Same as a lot of culture — classical music, ballet, literature — you've got to work at it a bit. Get used to the language and the conventions and history. I've been looking at art all my life and there are still artists I don't feel up to liking yet.
The Observer Sunday 13 October 2013
|Perry as Claire, his female alter-ego.|
I was particularly struck by a point he made in the lecture, a point he repeated in the interview with The Observer quoted above: that often you can't appreciate a work of art immediately. Sometimes you do, naturally; but many works of art you have to reconsider, reevaluate, revisit. 'You have to work at it a bit', as he says, and familiarise yourself with 'the language and the conventions and history'. How true this is. Why should we expect a serious work of art to spill its secrets as easily as the latest episode of EastEnders or a seaside picture postcard or the latest Lady Gaga single? But, of course, we all want things so quickly and effortlessly these days. If we don't 'get it' at once, we're on to the next thing, the next tweet or text, the next 'clever' Facebook comment, the next Spotify song, the next web image.
To spend quality time in an art gallery (not rushing round, but concentrating perhaps on just a few pieces), to sit in a concert hall and really absorb the music, to read a book leisurely but with active participation, to do a little research before seeing that Shakespeare play or entering that latest exhibition — yes, all this requires a little bit of work, but the rewards will always repay the effort.
(Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)