Archive for contenporary

More Gallery Observations

Posted in Art, Artists, Contemorary Art, Criticism, Gallery Talk, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25 October, 2009 by endlessslug

Again, I hark back to the Fall Openings in the Chicago galleries this year.

One of the most consistent issues I observed while sweeping the new shows was a distinct reliance on store-bought materials.  Of course, it is relentlessly difficult to procure more pure materials these days, but even simple things are being skipped over simply for the ease of production or more probably, simply because the artist is ignorant or following other seemingly less-ignorant peers.   I should specify a bit.  By store-bought materials, I am referring to the use of tube pigment, synthetic oils, pre-stretched canvas, pre-mixed gesso, and pre-cut stretcher bars.  I, of course, have used most of this as well while being a student learning to paint and in the more student-oriented galleries, I expected little else.  However, the more I learn about painting – as we all do our entire lives – the more I understand that anyone can make strikingly good paintings if they only used the right materials and understood the act of creating a surface as a carpentry construction is necessary as a first step towards a great painting.  Proper materials allows not only richness of the work, but longevity, value, and most importantly – the ability to more quickly, cleanly, and efficiently get your point across.  For American painters especially, I cannot fathom why anyone would walk into the corner Blicks and pick up pre-made materials.  We all know that artists are not as broke as the urban folklore tells the general public.  I can only attribute this behavior to a combination of poor instruction and laziness with a seeding of contemporary distraction.  A painting surface built from ground up gives the most individualism to a work.  Mixing your own color from dry pigment using the right type of oil that you want is the next step.  Do you even know the effect that certain oil has in certain pigments?  Is there any point of control?  Art is a science!

Well, the other side of this materials issue is the viewer, whether me or anyone.  It takes a painter all of a few tenths of a second to notice the use of store-bought materials.  I can walk through a gallery of 50 artists and identify the Winton Payne’s Gray and Gamblin Galkyd medium in every one.   This makes going to a gallery less exciting than it once was.  When I see everyone using the same materials in the same way with no care as to the content of the work, the construction of the work, nor the placement of the work, then I just don’t care about the work in any way shape and form finding them all to be mediocre to crappy student work that ought not to be up in the gallery.  But we have so many galleries lately too and these galleries must be filled.  Right?

And a final general note to painters out there…

Learn these two skills, please:  Fat over Lean & Layers

Oh and don’t research how to paint on the internet.  Find a human being in person and ask them.


The Sad State of Figure Art: Jenny Saville

Posted in Artists, Contemorary Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 5 August, 2009 by endlessslug

Today,  I picked up a copy of Jenny Saville‘s figure work from Amazon.  Utter crap.  It’s such a shame that someone who has some very nicely refined skill at figure drawing blows it on deformity pseudo-paintings.  One of the worst forms of fine art painting in the world is the “shock-art” movement.  I did not get a chance to read through much of the text but I did get some good skimming in.  Apparently, there are some sort of homage ideas in these works reminiscent of rare works by other famous artists such as Renoir and less rare work like those of Francis Bacon.  Saville’s work, however, is a far cry from either, but in our contemporary setting of inane art criticism and baseless comparisons, the common person might be easily misinformed.  There is a place for shock art: a single room, in a single gallery, somewhere in the world which is labeled “shock art”.  One can go to it if one wishes, but they will not see anything except reason after reason that shock art is more personal therapy than anything otherwise functional for the public – or any other audience except the artist him or herself.  Really, no one cares but you Jenny.

I picked this book up because I was interested in contemporary figure painters since I like to think of myself as one as well.  I’d like to find some peerage out there.  Rarely do I read amazon reviews, because again, we have the common schmo emoting all over a webpage but sometimes a little gem of awareness peeks through.  In the reviews for Saville’s book, one nice reviewer had mentioned that her new work was no where near as abrasive and interesting (my words, I don’t recall the actual words but go to the link above if you wish) as her preliminary body of work.  And therein lies the problem of shock art: the emotion fades as one triumphs over the emotion that created it and moves on, never to look back one moment to the painting made.  Don’t artists have sketch books anymore?

Of course, we cannot expect everyone to be a master artisan.  My reviews, rants, and criticisms tend to make me sound like I have very high standards and that everyone should be a little learning Leonardo – this is not the case at all.  However, there should still be some sort of standard education in the foundations of art and what art means.  We do have definitions of art that work very well and have worked for centuries.  Our contemporary world likes to think that the rules are too constrictive, that they can disregard them – sure you can, it’s how we evolve – but we need to know what the rules are first before we break them.  Instead, I hear hundreds of horror stories from art students about their professors letting them ‘paint what they want’ leading to an army of inconsistent, unprofessional, meaningless producers of low-grade consumer aesthetic commodities.  This is how the bills are paid now-a-days.  Produce so much that something must sell, forget the quality.  And, when something does sell, now we find confidence in creating more of what sold, further de-fining the craft of fine art into a conveyor line of totally pointless – but “original” crap.  On that note, I’ll post about Audrey Kawasaki very soon; another fine example of mass-production of totally emotive, pointless crap designed to placate a very ignorant and simply gratified public.  She wins!

Finally, back in the studio

Posted in Contemorary Art, Literature, Pop-culture, Social Science, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 5 August, 2009 by endlessslug

Today, a new painting begins.  It’s been a long time.  I just finished the underpainting and it’s already looking fantastic.  I hope I don’t screw it up tomorrow!
It’s always a nice feeling to work on art, no matter if it’s a painting, a poem, a dance, or fashion. It’s not the act of creating and definitely not the act of expressing, but the feeling that you are explaining something, finally, that your mind was occupied with.  Art, again, in all forms is the act of communication of a complex idea which can be exchanged in no other way.  Art is always communication – if it’s just for you, you failed – with the possible exception of a more universal sense of ‘you’.

I painted today because I felt like an old master.  Or, rather, I felt as a confident master.  I received a book in the mail today, The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting by Max Doerner.  The introduction alone was all that I needed to know that I have been right all along: art is science.  When art becomes like the hyper-masturbatory post-modern wall-damage that we see in galleries today, something is greatly wrong and missing from the world of art.  I used to like to complain about this with no real reason that would affect anyone else, but lately, due to unemployment, I realized just why this is such a problem.  By having anyone try to be an artist with no formal grounding or training, by having a very free society that placates mediocre accomplishments that can lead to pop-culture fame and income even from the bottom-of-the-barrel, and by having a folklore or belief system which tells people daily that they only need ‘to find their hidden gift’ or somesuch crap, we have constructed a world where should one want to produce anything of quality that improves our psychological standards of living, they cannot.  I would like to live as a full-time artist, for example, and I have a good friend who wants to live as a full-time writer – but we cannot do this in a world where crap is king.  Anyone who can simply produce eye-candy for a mass population takes the jobs away from us who ought to have them, which further demonstrates some hollow sense of ‘yes our belief was true, anyone can succeed!’ leading once again to a downward spiral of copycats, hipsters, wanna-bes, and hero-worship instead of learning how to effectively and efficiently create functional and long-lasting, powerful works of art defining not only us but our generation, our place in history, and improving our income and standard of living.  Anyone seen a movie lately?

Alright, that was more rant than demonstrations or explanations. I believe I owe that to any readers out there.  For now, go read something you didn’t find on the shelf at Borders and I’ll get back to some writing later tonight.

Art Today

Posted in Contemorary Art with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2 August, 2009 by endlessslug

The state of art today is crap.

I left the art world back in 2000 because the state of art at that time was essentially “whatever you think about [x] is the best answer and nobody can argue you because everything is opinion”.  During my art training, it was made very aware to me that art is not opinion at all but is a carefully designed conclusion to observed social phenomena.  The lessons of post-structuralism were completely lost to a public who can walk down to Blick’s and pick up some paint and throw it on a canvas telling the world that all art is pure expression.  Granted, it is nice that most folks have access to the materials of an artist, but most people lack the knowledge of what to do with them.  I recall a past where ideas were rampant and the ability to communicate these ideas with people was the limit.  Things are seemingly reversed in our contemporary world.

Artists are taught today that everyone’s idea or question is important.  This is untrue.

Artists are taught that they should express.  They should not.

Artists are taught just to draw anything as fast as they can.  This is terrible, it’s called sketching, not a work of art.

Unfortunately, the public has learned this nasty little word: elite and it’s application as elitism.  The moment anyone who has knowledge about the function and behavior of art attempts to criticize work, they may be labeled an elitist simply because the artist or others in the area disagreed.  There is no personal confrontations, no dialog, no communication, no discourse.  Simply ideas tossed around with no sense of support, analysis, testing, or conclusions.

Yes, I now have a firm background in science and have learned how important the study of science is to everyone, including artists.  Make conclusions people, not clownish emotive messes.