Intentist Arts

(Taken from ‘A Word On Intentist Art Practice’ from the Intentist book ‘The Search for Intentist Art.’ – See Web Store to purchase.)

Intentism is an international arts movement that believes that all meaning is the outworking of intention. ( Our members include painters, musicians, actors, poets and philosophers.
Although grounded in art theory, Intentism is primarily a practical arts movement. Since we argue that all art is intentionalist (the intention of the artist informs the viewer of the work’s meaning), we have often been asked how then does Intentist art differ from any other art?
Intentist artists work in numerous ways, but at present there appears to be three areas that are of particular interest:

  1. Palimpsestism and The Creative Trail.

Firstly, during the course of creating a work, an artist will have multiple intentions, including a meta-intention of the overall work and many micro-intentions as the art progresses. This journey has become known as the creative trail and is included in many intentist works as the artist intentionally leaves a visible trace of earlier marks normally edited out. This layering is on occasion referred to as Palimpsestism. (See  link on the drop-down menu for more details.)

Examples of palimpsestic works are Maria Beddoes’ works with glass and Vittorio Pelosi’s painting The School of Postmodernism (notice the creative trail in the rendering of the hands):

2. Irony

Secondly, since authorial irony can only be understood by comparing what is said (the work), and what is meant (author intent), it is a common subject for Intentist artists. An example here would be Luciano Pelosi’s Big Breakfast.

3. Anarrative work

Thirdly, much art theory finds its origin in Literary theory. It is a claim of the Intentists that in certain fundamental areas this cross over is not valid. In literature the author has a linear order expectation for the text since the viewer will normally start at the beginning and read letters sequentially until the end. However, this approach is not appropriate for the static arts. Most paintings and sculptures are anarrative as viewers can approach the work in multiple orders. Therefore, this basis for ignoring the artist’s intentions is not relevant. An example of an Intentist artist creating work to demonstrate these anarrative properties is Govinda Sah.

It finally should be stressed that although Intentists believe that the meaning of all creative gestures in the world is the imperfect outworking of intention, Intentists DO NOT maintain that all art should be an attempt to visualize a specific/narrow intention. Various art critics have failed to make that distinction and have rightly criticized this position. Generally speaking, Intentists do choose to create an outworking of their intentions. However, other artists of course are free to create work that come from the most vague intention to create, to the most specific intention of communicating a precise message. In this field, all that Intentists would maintain is that always remains an intention. 

For a more theoretical essay on this, feel free to read about Intentist’s use of Speech Acts in The Flaneur online arts magazine.