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Obsess and Regress

Submitted by admin on September 6, 2024 – 10:10 amNo Comment

by Buffalo Sean

Don’t worry baby, representational painting is here for the 21st century. Give it to me straight-forward, on paper, in lines and colors. Despite a century of obsession with explaining the world in increasingly abstract ways, there is no place for deepening interpretation today. The dominance of post-modernism is battered by irrelevance, appearing for all respects to be a symbol of entropy. For all the strengths of globalism, regionalism, crowd-sourcing, industrial production, transience, collaboration and pastiche the reach of art has not extended beyond the rarefied null set of the rich. Accessibility has not increased despite all the money thrown at it by governments and institutions- and why not? Former eras of art have vacillated between populist and intellectual themes, but our grand experiment of attaining the former without losing the latter has simply failed. Politics, vice, sex, drugs; our taboos are commonplace and frankly boring. The chatter of the internet has taken the wind out of our sails.

Identifying ourselves with one faction or another, tribal notions used to hold social order together. Today memes are no longer inventions; ideas are distorted and altered before they are ever spoken. In the air are a billion crossing notions of existence, instead of the smorgasbord of minutiae that we held in our minds the memory is only a port of call for facts and figures that morph with each restless change in perspective. The advantage of images, solid forms, is in their alterability within the mind. From one day to the next living with an object breeds stories in the mind, brooding emotions are expressed in the simple strength of narrative. Experience is overrated. Impatience is king.

Read a line in a poem, a paragraph in a story. It matters more your state of mind than the actual words. Look at a scene, a sailboat on the sea, painted with rough palette strokes and sharp edges. The context will hem your mind in, but the last conversation you had, the bite of fruit you just ate, the feeling of your feet on the floor in the morning will dictate the passenger in the cabin, the force of the wind, the waves crashing on the sides of the hull. It may be calm on Monday and thrashing about on Thursday. As we cross over into a world of infinite knowledge post-modern art requires more and more explanation- which we have no time for. Performance is reduced to remnant, sculpture is mere process, installation art is only a messy room and experiential artworks pale in comparison to the iPad. Encapsulation means identification with a singularity- and any words of explanation are futile in the face of Google.

It is time to admit that art does no service to the greater good; that harm is done by veiling the emotions of the artist behind intent. The only revolt possible is that of the naïve, found in backwaters of culture teeming with the primordial bacteria of inspiration. If you are caught in the undertow of selling art, making it match the couch, explaining it and feeding it to your audience in spoonfuls- go do something else. Brainstorm video games, shoot films, build cabinets- only outside of the artworld can you find inspiration. Otherwise pick up your brush, wipe off the dust, swallow your pride with a good shot of whiskey and paint. Nothing else will survive.

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