Some of the latest published research on brain function (Iain McGilchrist – The Master and his Emissary - 2009 Yale University Press) suggests that the two hemispheres of an individual brain have evolved to operate partly in conflict with each other. Strange thing humans! Yet an individual brain is able to function in close harmony with other human brains. This may have implications for art appreciation.
These latest musings on art have been triggered by a collector of my work who expressed a deep and continuing enjoyment from viewing my paintings. Most other artists have similar admirers so this is not an experience unique to me. Humans, of course, also have conflicting mindsets as to their likes and dislikes about art. We may not all like the same artwork, but true art will always cause a reaction. Any painting looked at without human passion is simply an assemblage of materials.
The brain is known to expand and develop more in the areas of greatest use. My paintings happen to be created utilising the ‘right side’ of my brain to create a ‘whole work’. This creative right side of the brain is comparatively inactive in most people due to an unbalanced educational system, and because the day to day demands of the modern world encourage us to focus on the development of the ‘left side’ of our brain. The brain is a product of our evolution and the deep social nature of humans means that incredibly strong mental links between individuals have developed over time. It could be that the interaction between individual human brains (empathy), particularly in regard to art, is greater than we currently recognise.
I am suggesting that the “creative mind process” that goes into one of my paintings may find “identity recognition” in the brain of a collector. It would be of no interest to a dog or any other species but it can have a strong effect on another person. Even if the collector has never met the artist, the collector unconsciously identifies the work as something familiar to his own brain’s processes. In other words, the collector has a deep evolutionary and inbuilt understanding of the work due to a strong empathy that naturally links the artist and the collector.
This may explain why someone who might describe themselves as being “not good at art” still clearly has the human passion and appreciation for art and creativity.