Is art as a way to express complex emotions dead? Judging by the pieces hanging in many homes and even in galleries, for many people the main focus of art is looks, not substance. This unfortunate sentiment is a common critique present in the work of London-based artist Ian Stevenson.
Unoriginal and uninspiring art is something Ian constantly makes fun of. “Nowadays lots of things are just nice, similar to something else and just exist to decorate someone’s house,” Ian told me via email. As you’ll see in his cackle-inducing pieces below, Ian has no patience for art that calls itself high brow merely to elevate itself above its audience. “I’m not a fan of work that relies on words to add meaning to itself,” Ian said. “The viewer is often left out and if they don’t try to join in then they are encouraged to feel stupid.” To call such “art” work out, Ian creates satirical, often word-heavy scenes that drive across one unmistakable message: art made without thought is pointless.
Despite the mocking nature of Ian’s work, others in the art world appreciate his honesty:
Other artists and people generally like my work and I get a lot of positive feedback which is good to hear when I’ve been locked away in my studio. It’s great because there are people and commissioners out there who do think for themselves and do want something different.”
In many of the pieces below, Ian creates satirical paintings that bring to light the unoriginal nature of much of contemporary art. In others, Ian critiques mindless consumerism, suggesting we learn to think for ourself and make conscious decisions about the way we run our lives.