Master Craftsmen

I revisited Leonardo’s drawings at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea with friends on Saturday. This is the fourth time I’ve seen his drawings and I could stare at his sketches all day. To think that these papers are half a millennium old, and still have the ability to impress, says a lot about his talent and the style of the day but it also says a lot about how Art has progressed (or regressed) in recent years.* To me the ‘wow’ of art is in the craft resulting from years of practice, as well as in the detail in the final imagery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a traditionalist by any stretch of the imagination, but if there is something new in the Art world to be seen then it only piques my interest if it has been created well with a high skill level.  Let’s face it, DaVinci’s drawings have a skill level all of their own.

Which brings me to Sunday, and a different discipline from a different set of master craftsmen. I saw Malum Sky play at The Scene here in Swansea last night and they knocked my socks off. I’ve wanted to see them play since the release of their first EP last year. It’s been a long wait but definitely worth it. Their website says they’re “carving their way into the next generation of progressive metal” but to me that’s like describing DaVinci’s art as “chalk on paper”. There’s a skill level on show here that you just can’t take in on just one listen. Seeing them play live was just mesmerizing. There was more going on in just 2 bars than some bands put into a whole set. But ‘more’ and ‘faster’ only work if they’re done with skill and precision and these guys have got it nailed. Add in the experience of their new vocalist Ben Honebone and the show last night was absolutely jaw dropping. Incidentally, I don’t use ‘jaw-dropping’ as an idiom here. Stood next to me were guitarists from another supporting band who simply stood there in silence with their jaws completely dropped; totally agog as phrygians gracefully tumbled across a sea of deific time changes and sweeping melodies at breakneck speeds.

Musically these guys are 21st Century DaVincis. They’re in a league completely of their own. I’m very lucky that I can see the DaVinci drawings any time I like since I live close to the Glynn Vivian. I have a feeling I won’t have to wait too long either to see Malum Sky play again. All hail the master craftsmen! More!! More!!!

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*I think there’s a big difference between Art and art in the 21st century.

These days Art is what you create when you’re so far up someone’s backside (or your own) you believe their shit (or your own) is the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. It involves hardly any craftsmanship or skill. It relies on a write-up of 10000 philosophical words to justify its existence, none of which you’ll ever see because they will have been burned as a ‘performance piece’.

Meanwhile art is something aesthetic with an element of craftsmanship which visually communicates something. You might not know why you like it, but at least if you don’t then you’ll have a rough idea of what the artist intended.

I think Leonardo would consider himself as an artist rather than an Artist.

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