Finished and Unfinished

by Jiheng Yan

Recently, I watched a Chinese art talk show which talks about one of Vincent Van Gogh's early unfished work called 'Fishman on the beach.' The host talked about the beauty of this unfished work. The painting is raw but fascinating.  According to the host's assumption, the painting was unfished because it was Van Gogh's early work and he doesn't know how to finish this painting. It leads me to the question I have for a long time. I asked a lot of people for the answer. But I still haven't get one that can convince me.  The question is how artists decide whether the artwork was finished or not?

 Fisheman on the beach, Vincent Van Gogh, Unknown date

Fisheman on the beach, Vincent Van Gogh, Unknown date

I asked myself this question again and again. When I see Mr. and Mrs. Becher's typology series for the first time, I had that question in mind immediately. Artworks especially typology works, the quantity of work was decided by artists. But how did the artists make the decision? I understand that some artists may consider their presentation strategy before they finish the project. They figure out a number that works best for exhibiting. Excluding that reason, how do artists make the decision? Take my self as an example; I created a series for my midpoint review. It is a project of my emotional transformation in the past two years. The requirement for midpoint review is one series of work have to have 12 to 16 images in it. I submitted 12 images for the MPR only because I can pick the best 12 images in all the photos I have taken. The fewer photos I show, the possibility of having weak images in this project is lower. But after graduating from the school, there is no such a requirement for artists. How could I know if the project was finished or not?  I can have 40 images of one series and keep shooting. Should I stop working on a project just because I am tired of it? Or should I continue to work on a 'finished' project if I have an idea how to improve this project? I still don't have the answer.

  Untitled #2, ‘Where I passed by, Jiheng Yan, Sep 13th 2016

 Untitled #2, ‘Where I passed by, Jiheng Yan, Sep 13th 2016