How to Appreciate Paintings #5: Look at the title later

Art exhibition in Singapore. ARTualize is the only art gallery in Singapore that lets you rent paintings for your home. Singapore artist Low Hai Hong with his friend standing in front of his painting in his art exhibtion in NAFA art gallery.

 

When we look at a painting for the first time, most of us have a tendency to give the painting a cursory glance, proceed to search for the title and give the title a good read, before returning to the panting for a more detailed observation. 
 
While there is nothing wrong with this method, our enjoyment of art appreciation will greatly increase if we give the painting a closer examination first, before referring to the title. 
 
The title of a painting, as mentioned in the earlier post, provides us with useful information that helps us in our understanding of the painting.  This additional information is provided by the artist with a certain intention.
 
When we look at the painting without knowing the title, we form our own opinion of the painting: what the painting is about, what the painting is trying to express, what the painting feels to us.  Knowing the title subsequently may create conflict or confirmation to our earlier impression of the painting.  Armed with this piece of new information and the need for reconciliation, we re-look at the painting with fresh eyes.  We may eventually have a conclusion that differs from our initial view.
 
This process takes more effort than looking at the title first.  The title is a bit like a cheat sheet that helps to fast speed our understanding of the painting but because it gives us a framework, we may feel comfortable inside the barricade and not break out to see what is outside.  We lose the satisfying process of finding out how different our thoughts are from the artist’s.  We also lose the invaluable opportunity to build our own ability and confidence in appreciating paintings. 

How to appreciate paintings?  Look at the painting first, before looking at its title.


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