#11: Understanding the label on the wall in an art exhibition

Understanding the label on the wall in an art exhibition_Autumn at square du vert is an oil painting by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong

Understanding the label on the wall in an art exhibition is a crucial way to learning the identity of the painting.

The label on the wall refers to information that accompanies the physical painting on the wall or the painting image on the screen. The label on the wall usually includes these five terms: title, artist, medium, year, dimensions.  
 
Title refers to the name of the painting. The title of the painting is normally the only communication the artist has with us in words. The artist is usually the person who decides the title. The artist uses the title to tell us what she wants us to know about the painting.

Read: #4: How to understand a painting title

Artist refers to the creator of the painting. Most artists will sign or imprint their names on the painting itself.

Read: #9: The first step to appreciating paintings: know more about the artist

Medium refers to the material or technique by which the painting is created.  Common mediums include oil, watercolour, Chinese ink, calligraphy, acrylic.  The different mediums create entirely different types of paintings.  

Read: #12: Understanding art terms – medium

Year refers to the year the painting was completed. Most artists will imprint the year on the painting itself. Knowing when the painting was completed helps us to put the painting into perspective.
 
Dimensions refer to the size of the painting without the frame. They are useful for commercial reasons as it provides information to potential buyers. Dimensions are also very useful when we cannot see the actual physical painting. It is difficult for us to visualise the size of a painting by looking only at its image (on the screen on or in a book) without knowing its dimensions.
 
These five terms on the label on the wall in an art exhibtion provide an identity to the painting. They give us information that helps us to understand the painting.

How to appreciate paintings?  Understanding the label on the wall in an art exhibition is a crucial way to learning the identity of the painting.

Painting Image: Autumn at Square du Vert by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong / ARTualize.com.sg

#8: Before you enter the art exhibition, take a deep breath

Before you enter the art exhibition take a deep breath - Thian hock keng temple is an oil painting by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong

Before you enter the art exhibition the next time, take a deep breath before you step in.

Stop at the entrance for a moment. Stand still, close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Quieten yourself, clear your mind of lingering thoughts on earlier events, and focus yourself on where you are now.
 
You are now in the best frame of mind to enjoy the paintings.

Read: #1: The no 1 rule in art appreciation

How to appreciate paintings?  Before you enter the art exhibition, take a deep breath. Prepare yourself so that you are ready to enjoy the paintings.

Painting Image: Thian Hock Keng Temple by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong / ARTualize.com.sg

#7: Engage with paintings in an art exhibtion by enjoying paintings alone

Engage with paintings by enjoying paintings alone_Promontory at marina bay is an oil painting by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong

The best way to engage with paintings in an art exhibtion is to enjoy the paintings alone, by yourself.

When we watch a movie in a cinema, we may be sitting next to our companions, but we are really watching the movie alone by ourselves. We are experiencing our thoughts and feelings as the story unfolds, without talking to others until the end of the movie.

Watching movies is a highly enjoyable personal experience because of the time spent alone with the show.
 
The same enjoyable personal experience can happen in an art exhibition: walk around the exhibtion by yourself and look at the paintings alone. Talk to your companions after you are done with looking at the paintings.

Read: #6: How to look at paintings in an art exhibition – every painting deserves 3 looks

Looking at the paintings alone in an art exhibition allows us to engage with paintings at a deeper personal level. There are no interferences, judgements and opinions from our companions.

We can really focus on looking at the paintings instead of thinking of what to say. We have the chance to connect with the painting ourselves and not be influenced by others. We can react to the painting without worrying what others think.
 
When we look at a painting alone, we initiate a quiet conversation between us and the painting; a conversation that stimulates our mind and touches our heart.  A highly enjoyable personal experience. 
 
So the next time you visit an art exhibition in the art museum or art gallery, politely tell your companions you prefer to walk around by yourself first, before catching up with them later.  Just like watching a movie in the cinema.

Read: #1: The No 1 rule in art appreciation

How to appreciate paintings? The best way to engage with paintings in an art exhibition is to enjoy the paintings alone, by yourself. If you are with someone, talk to them after you have looked at the paintings.

Painting Image: Promontory @ Marina Bay by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong / ARTualize.com.sg