Paul Parillo Understanding Art

What can a poor soul do when something so subjective is sent into the world with a particular purpose and presumably meant to be pondered and valued? Art is a difficult matter, one that often leaves me discombobulated. I love and appreciate the debates and quality of discussions brought up when discussing an art piece – it promotes intelligence and creativity. It seems, though, that whenever I look upon a painting or sculpture with a vaguely existing description, any and all interpretation seems almost applicable – and of course the trouble with that is it’s hard to gain anything from it.


One can’t expect a particular message to be easily transparent – where’s the fun in that? – but when a multitude of purveyors give their own two cents and all of them seem just as plausible, I’m left feeling troubled. “Pretentious” is a word constantly bounced throughout the halls of galleries, exhibitions and art shows, and not only does everyone seem like an expert, the level of pretentiousness appears to exist as infinite as a room full of mirrors. I’ve seen a giant white canvas with only a few red streaks in no particular order considered a beautiful art piece by those observing (who would disagree? – no one likes to stand out in an environment like that).


Just the other day while I was having lunch in a modest restaurant downtown, I happened to notice a wall of art with at least 10 framed photographs for sale. 11x17 in size, none were under $250 – the pictures were overly photoshopped and under imagined shots of a taxi, a streetlamp, a barn, a car in a junkyard etc. It was easily bullshit, yet someone did the work, someone approved the work, and thought almost three hundred bones would suffice. C’mon, that’s not art, but consequently, that’s also just my opinion. My subjective line has been crossed and it’s always interesting to see where everyone else’s is. Sometimes the line is deplorable and other times commendable (maybe even both every once and a while), but what it never is is correct, and that’s why art is so difficult to decipher yet enjoyable none the less.

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