The term ‘fine art’ is now more than ever so easily misused and misunderstood. For the larger part of the past century, artists have questioned the difference between ‘craft’ and ‘fine art’, entertaining endless debates, suggesting every conceivable solution, and reaching no widely accepted conclusion. There is a difference between someone moving their hands around until something is somehow ‘made’, and an artist creating a work of art. What is that difference?
I asked myself this very question when presented with the work of William Lindsay. Working in Manhattan as a graphic designer and fine artist, Lindsay is a prime example of someone on the verge of, in fact, not being a fine artist. He uses fabric paint, the puffy stuff found on many a hand-made 80s sweatshirt, to create a continuous squiggle line across a canvas, painted one color with acrylic, which is then finished with a thick layer of acrylic gloss medium. This is the formula from which Lindsay rarely diverts. Sometimes the canvas hosts blocks of wood, which protrude awkwardly from the surface. Sometimes the entire canvas is covered by the meandering squiggle, while other times the squiggle is more selective in its coverage. Those canvases on which Lindsay seems to have been most design-conscious, those which were not just simply filled edge to edge with a line, the quality of which changes only ever minutely, are the most interesting. In these canvases, one gains the sense that Lindsay does have a keen eye for design and compositional space.
I wonder if William Lindsay is familiar with the work of Yayoi Kusama, whose practice bears obvious resemblance in its use of a consistent form, repeated indefinitely. Kusama’s obsessive use of the dot to cover the surfaces of entire rooms is interesting both from an artistic and psychological point of view. Lindsay’s repetitive use of the squiggle to cover 20″x20″ canvas seems to lack any larger artistic or personal goal other than to look pretty. It is here I find that difference I was seeking earlier, between someone simply moving their hands until something is ‘done’ and a fine artist.
If you’re looking for something to hang on your office wall to spice the place up, you might want to check William Lindsay out. If you are hoping to engage in some kind of thought-provoking or challenging artistic pursuit, I would suggest you keep looking.
Text by Brooke Valentine