What your artwork says about you

By Gregg Sedgwick, Gallery One

They say that the way you peel an orange can reveal much about your character. I’m guessing that a random ripping approach conveys a passive aggressive type and a methodical and systematic remover of peel suggests a pensive planner with an inclination toward an obsessive compulsive disposition. Cars choices certainly convey characteristics of their drivers – why do so many men want a Ferrari?

With art, the links with character become even more profound. To reveal something insightful about yourself (on the basis of your artistic preferences) we suggest you take yourself off to a desert island. Along with a tent and other survival gear, you’re allowed to take a single piece of art. With the cooperation of the world’s major galleries and major collectors, you’re permitted to take any one artwork regardless of value or ownership. Think carefully about your choice; you’re not coming back from the island and you’ll have no other source of artistic stimulation. Without hesitation, I am taking a Mondrian. Specifically, his painting Composition No. 10, 1939–1942. It’s characterized by primary colors on a white ground with black grid lines and several rectangles filled with solid primary colours. The piece defines Mondrian’s radical but classical approach to the rectangle and the more you look at it the more depth and layers you see. The painting appeals to my preference for order and simplicity – on first appearances, the painting appears uncluttered and uncomplicated but there are hidden depths for those who take time to look below the surface. By contrast, as much as I admire the work of John Constable, (his sumptuous portrayals of the English countryside take me back to my childhood) – I couldn’t live on my desert island with the lack of order, organisation and structure in a Constable painting – I’d want to tidy things up.


One of my friends said he’d take a Jackson Pollock to the island, most likely his work known as No.5, painted in1948. In 2006, No.5 became the world’s most expensive painting, when it was sold for $140 million. Pollock used a method called ‘action painting’. Basically, he placed the canvas on the floor and moved around all sides. Using very liquid paints – he would drop the paint in seemingly random sequences over the canvas. The painting does indeed coincide with the character of my friend – he is chaotic and disorganised yet has multiple layers in his personality.


Sculptures are permitted on the island and if you select a Henry Moore (assuming we can get it on the boat) you are likely to be a person with bold and idealistic views. Moore’s work is elegant yet solid – grounded yet soft and embracing. Take Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ and you are likely to be an ever so slightly unhinged personality – creative and deep thinking with a tendency toward dark thoughts.


At Gallery One, we work extensively with Syrian artist Helen Abbas. Helen’s work is rich in layers and symbolism. At the 2017 Florence Biennale, she won a gold medal for her work; Seeking our Light. The artwork conveys a powerful message on behalf of women of the Middle East. A female figure is emerging from the light as she breaks through the constraints of Arabic words and letters. The message is one of hope and optimism, empowerment and bright futures for all women. Like the painter herself, the artwork is dignified, strong and independent. The Artist portrays an important description of a woman’s journey, her challenges and her changing role in Middle Eastern life.


Our choice of artwork is a reflection of our inner selves and I think that’s why so many of us struggle to select a suitable artwork to hang in our homes. More than any other item, it’s saying ‘this is who I am’ and ‘this is what I am like on the inside’. Artwork can be revealing and meaningful but it can also be decorative and fun. As with life, we learn to be more assured about ourselves as we mature – whilst we sometimes hesitate over whether to hang an artwork on a wall – it invariably makes us feel good once it’s up there – revealing a little piece of our inner self for the world to see.

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