*A question that was raised last week*
When visiting a solo show at a gallery, aren't you ever questioning why there are so many pieces that are almost exactly the same? Not just a show that displays the artist's current body of work, but that the artist has taken the same figure or image and only altered it slightly in numerous ways? You've seen shows of this artist a few times over the last two years and it's been the same. In the beginning, the artist defines the work but at what point does the work define the artist?
On one hand, the viewer can deduce that the artist has asked him/herself multiple questions, and has tried to answer those questions in different ways, which is the path that can (and should!) lead the artist into more and more questions and possibly a new body of work. But does this mean that the artist hasn't grown? If you have one style of work that is best known to be unmistakably yours, can you ever climb out of the creative sink-hole and move on to a new subject or medium? Is the artist just forced to supply for the market's demand, or are they feeling some strange fulfillment in obsessively cranking out the same thing over and over? I can think of a handful of local artists that have made their mark in the art world, with a distinct style. Are these people ever allowed to venture outside of what they're "known" for? Does it have to be super-genius in order to be respected? Or will they be looked down upon because they're trying to do something that's "not them"? I guess this could be the difference between commercial and non-commercial.
I came up with a few words to help myself understand this a little better. "Diversity Within Sameness". Maybe it's been used before, but the two words "diversity" and "sameness" really work well together in this instance. It's like having a balanced ecosystem with a variation of life forms. It's important to be able to grow and learn and create new, inspired work, even if you're trying to answer the same questions over and over again. There are artists that have been working for years and years on the same few bodies of work, and even though their work may appear the same, there is a big chance that they've been inspired throughout, and they've uncovered ideas that they didn't even know existed.