Wit" is defined as a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way to create humor. Abstract language is not immediately associated with humor, as pictorial and narrative language can seem more accessible. Why certain shapes and colors appear humorous depends on context, cultural associations or individual experience. But sometimes the reason is not tangible, or sensible, some things are just funny.
Analyzing wit in reference to abstract art and language is a sure way to diffuse its potency, since its delivery feeds on the novel and unexpected. Disruption of the status quo helps to define humor. Modernist aesthetics surrounding form, balance and proportion still provide a common reference point from which to view abstract art. This shared visual language has become part of our collective consciousness and dictates our expectations. When preconceived standards are disrupted they can alter assumptions, surprise, reinvent and communicate wit.
The conversation between artist and viewer is enhanced by recognition and discovery. A small gesture like a nod or wink can provide a link with the mindset of the artist and set the tone of the conversation. It is a mistake to polarize humor and intellect since they work best in unison. Wit suggests qualities of the human spirit in an overly synchronized world, be it the slip, the twist, the pratfall, it's the imperfection that identifies the personality.
The artists selected for this show share a sense of humanity and amusement that resonates in their work. You could call it a "twinkle in the eye" or a "joy" that permeates through what they do. I think of it as an inner wit that can't be kept down, as long as someone is willing to play.
Joanne Freeman 2012
The exhibition will be accompanied with a catalogue. An artist panel discussion will be held on Thursday, Febuary 14 from 6 to 8 pm.
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