LT Magazine, September 2012 | Back to Basics…

It seems only fair that we take a step back for those of you who are total virgins of the contemporary art world and teach you a few terms that will at least impress your girlfriend if you decide to take her to a gallery opening on your first date or lessen your gawking when the dinner conversation turns to Sri Lanka’s hottest new artist.

Contemporary art:
Contemporary art can be defined variously as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II.

Medium:
The material used to create a work of art. Also, a term used for the binder for paint, such as oil.

Mixed Media:
Descriptive of art that employs more than one medium – e.g., a work that combines paint, natural materials (wood, pebbles, bones), and man made items (glass, plastic, metals) into a single image or piece of art.

Acrylic:
A fast-drying paint which is easy to remove with mineral spirits; a plastic substance commonly used as a binder for paints.

Vernissage: A private viewing of paintings before public exhibition.

Curator:
The person who is responsible for choosing the works and artists to be included in an exhibition, in keeping with the theme, which has been proposed either by the curator or the institution presenting the exhibition. He or she may be a museum curator, an art critic, a freelance curator or an academic. The curator often designs the layout of the exhibition, but may also be assisted by the exhibition designer, who chooses the colour of the walls, graphic elements and lighting.

Etching:
Printing technique in which a metal plate is first covered with an acid-resistant material, then worked with an etching needle to create an intaglio image. The exposed metal is eaten away in an acid bath, creating depressed lines that are later inked for printing.

Minimalism:
A style of painting and sculpture in the mid 20th century in which the art elements are rendered with a minimum of lines, shapes, and sometimes color. The works may look and feel sparse, spare, restricted or empty.

Lithography:
Printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitized so that ink sticks only to the design areas and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in 1798 in Germany by Alois Senefelder.

Serigraphy (Silk-screen):
A printing technique that makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly onto a piece of paper or canvas through a stencil creating an image on a screen of silk or other fine fabric with an impermeable substance. Serigraphy differs from most other printing in that its color areas are paint films rather than printing ink stains.

Mixed media
Works of art made with more than one medium.

Installation:
Mixed-media, multi-dimensional works that are created temporarily for a specific space or site, either indoors or outdoors. Installation usually means that the work is a one-off piece designed for a specific space. Usually the viewer can walk around the installation and be surrounded by the work rather than see it flat against the wall.

Triptych:
Three-part work of art; especially a painting, meant for placement on an altar, with three panels that fold together.

Diptych:
Two-part work of art; especially a painting, meant for placement on an altar, with three panels that fold together.

Aquatint:
A printing technique capable of producing unlimited tonal gradations to re-create the broad flat tints of ink wash or watercolor drawings. This is achieved by etching microscopic cracks and pits into the image on a master plate, typically made of copper or zinc. Spanish artist Goya used this technique.

Limited Edition:
A limited number of identical prints numbered in succession and signed and supervised by the artist. Any additional prints have been destroyed.

Sculpture – A three-dimensional form modeled, carved, or assembled.

Montage:
A picture composed of other existing illustrations, pictures, photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. that are arranged so they combine to create a new or original image. A collage.

Landscape Art:
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition.

Figurative Art:
A term used particularly in the modern period to indicate representational art, that is, art in which the artist’s primary concern is still with recording the visible world.

Abstract:
A 20th century style of painting in which nonrepresentational lines, colors, shapes, and forms replace accurate visual depiction of objects, landscape, and figures. The subjects often stylized, blurred, repeated or broken down into basic forms so that it becomes unrecognizable. Intangible subjects such as thoughts, emotions, and time are often expressed in abstract art form.

Chiaroscuro:
In drawing, painting, and the graphic arts, chiaroscuro (ke-ära-skooro) concerns the rendering of forms through a balanced contrast between light and dark areas. The technique that was introduced during the Renaissance, is effective in creating an illusion of depth and space around the principal figures in a composition. Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt were painters who excelled in the use of this technique

Water colour:
A painting medium in which the binder is gum arabic. Water is used to thinning, lightening or mixing.

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