Success in art- an elusive goal
One of the unpleasant truths any young artist must face is that neither talent nor quality work will ensure success. And that not even a lifetime's devotion to his craft and the production of beautiful and significant art will guarantee anything except an occasional word of encouragement from a friend and a certain degree of self-satisfaction.Skip to next paragraph
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It's a truth many slightly older and more experienced artists have learned to accept, and that has caused many others to consider career alternatives. In neither case have these artists been willing to achieve success at any cost, something others have been willing to do - often with startling results.
Among the numerous talented and accomplished artists who have not achieved fame are several who nevertheless have done quite well. They exhibit regularly in good galleries, are respected by a growing number of art professionals and a significant number of their peers, make a modest income from their art, and in general are accepted as solid professionals who can be counted on to do good work.
The majority are just that: solid and dependable. A few, however, are special , and are in fact as worthy of major success as many who have achieved it.
Anyone seriously involved with the art world has his or her own list of such artists, as well as a number of theories as to why they haven't received the recognition they deserve. These will range from the stupidity of critics and curators to poor management by dealers. But whatever the reason, these artists represent levels of quality that have won the respect of at least a few art professionals willing to champion them and what they produce.
My own list of 20 or so underrated artists in their 40s or younger includes four whose work particularly interests me, and for whom I have a special regard. None is a newcomer; all have been exhibiting for several years and are thoroughly accomplished and professional.
Tino Zago heads my abbreviated list by virtue of his extraordinary growth as a painter since I first encountered his work a little over four years ago. My impression at that time was that he was a ''diamond in the rough'' with tremendous talent and a great passion for paint, a person who would, in 10 years' time, develop into an excellent artist.
He proved me wrong - but only to the extent of accomplishing in 10 months what I had thought could only be done in a decade. His second show followed his first by less than a year, and totally convinced me he was fast becoming one of our very best painters.
This time I was right - as he proved emphatically in his 1983 exhibition and in the two he held this year at the OK Harris Gallery in SoHo. His most recent show closed only a few days ago, and although it didn't get anything like the attention it deserved, it was one of the most beautiful demonstrations of painting I have seen in quite some time.
Zago's canvases are very large, passionately and sumptuously painted, celebratory in spirit. The compositions are holistic in intent. They can be read as loosely defined depictions of streams and ponds and of the vegetation that lines their banks; as rich, painterly explosions somewhat in the tradition of the late Monet or Jackson Pollock; or as attempts to maintain an exquisite pictorial balance between the ''representational'' and the ''abstract.''