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Art Theory

Art Expanding into the Landscape

Troubles With Framing Postmodern Condition

Melbourne Graffiti

Melbourne street graffiti. Image PD.

There is already a long tradition of painting spilling into the landscape, the one escaping the cannonic with underground forms of our derelict urban environments we are familiar with. Without doubt, beyond the taggings of desparates, confused with their own identity, there are some real works of art on our streets comparing to which the works of some big art names at Sydney Festival look like pale response of artworld institutions.

Mark Titmarsh in The Conversation article from 18th december 2018 has noticed that a number of contemporary artists including some exhibiting at Sydney Festival 2019 see and talk about their instalations as "paintings". Of course these paintings are far from traditional painting since they tend to include a time defined performance as well as spillage out of rectangular canvas space into real 3D space and commonly extend to architecture and landscape. Since defined a priori as concepts for particular exhibitions and events, they are essentially conceptual works of art and not paintings. Nevertheless it was interesting to indicate the continuation of the mixed media trends in art which aim at exploring the painterly form by redefining traditional artistic medium of painting. Certainly, it is the part of a modernist tradition to attempt to escape classification, to assert unknown as a possibility of alternative view of the medium. The heritage of the 20th century Avant-Gardes is the tradition of resisting the academy, resisting the institution which always attempts to frame rigid rules on what art and painting are supposed to be. In this sense the painting escaping frame may be recognised as a literal interpretation of the Avant-Guardes paradigm. The article fails to mention that there is already a long tradition of painting spilling into the landscape, the one escaping the cannonic with underground forms of our derelict urban environments we are familiar with. Without doubt, beyond the taggings of desparates, confused with their own identity, there are some real works of art on our streets comparing to which the works of some big art names at Sydney Festival look like pale response of artworld institutions.

Someone has pointed that this principle of novelty and the artworld exclusivity is the reason for the absence of art in our daily lives.

Surely, it can be argued that it is quite opposite, that art has become a part of our lives in a way that we can no longer distinguish it from real life. Everywhere around us aesthetic principles become more significant than logic. So many spaces open for interpretation and there is less and less meaningful communication. Everyone has a right to an opinion and the way how opinions are expressed is the measure of their relevance. Just as in art… Filling the void with private sense.

Politicians make issues of insignificant forms avoiding contents that concern us all. Focus on common truth, essential for discursive reasoning is dissolved in our discourses following aesthetic principles. Everyone is concerned more with how was something done then with underlying meanings conveyed. Just as in aesthetic experience more meanings are extrapolated from forms of communication then from contents. Messengers are getting shot by big brothers and messages disappear. So we have Assange imprisonned while noone remembers the message any more. No one is interested in messages but everyone seems to like to fill the void with their private opinions and with private selfies. Our needs are defined with jingle bells… In the noise of miningless data an absence of opinion becomes the new strategy of resistance… Actors roles are getting confused with real people. Let’s shot the bad guys. No one knows what real is but I know who bad guys are.. All truths are alternative truths. All news may be “fake news”. And we are not responsible. Truth is relative and we do not care when someone there is suffering. Their truth is not our truth any way. And “everything is so beautiful” with a little help of private drugs and TV from time to time to keep us entertained and ever happy to Christmas shop with sounds of music. Kitsch and aesthetics combined in beautiful cacophony. Arguments about art invisibility are witnessing that art has become a part of our lives to that extent that we can no longer see it just as one can not see wood for the trees.

Certainly, it does not mean that the argument that art is in our time invisible has not pointed to a problem. Fine art as an institution of exclusive Artworld is isolated from main stream media and, in this sense, it seems absent from our daily life. The argument is indicating a growing schasm between culture and popular culture. Main stream media are not interested in art or culture but in entertainment… Since they are profit based they are driven by advertising, shareholders and political interests. They are selling our eyeballs and pushing the lowest taste denominators…

What about traditional artworld? Since the time art was reframed as entertainment, government grants are commonly awarded to potentially profitable projects and swallowed by art institutions while artists are expected to provide the spec-work forever for free. That is, theatres often end with sponsored kitsch spectacles like Lion King or some other Disney based sweet endeavour. Once respectable galleries end selling Madonna’s underwear, architects are forced to design colonial clones by ignorant but arogant councils, paintings offered for sale in commercial galleries often look like time warped orphans of melancholic romanticism or realism from 18th century. Just pumped in size... When ignorance is omnipresent size paradoxically becomes the principal aesthetic criterium. So we end with big bananas, pineapples, big refugee boats and big-headed portraits of former prime ministers in our parliament. People are seriously arguing that culture is based on landscape…

Kitsch as Art

Kitsch and art failures of past offered for sale as art, Image PD

Amateurs and illustrators with no aesthetic ambition are calling themselves “artists” without hesitation. Businessmen are measuring "likeness of portraits" and awarding state art awards, politicians without any aesthetic background or education deciding about aesthetic value and subsequent destruction of heritage buildings - Vandals prescribing us what the aesthetic value is…

Art criticism in crisis… Lack of value criteria… Kitsch everywhere framed and sold as art… Mickey Mouses, mass produced worthless reproductions without any control of editions selling frames and “pop culture”. People without clue of what is original and what is reproduction proudly collecting junk with “certified authenticity”. Ebay creep show under the “art” category selling everything from ancient artistic failures to reproduced illustrations from vandalised books. No wonder that many people decide to leave their spaces bland looking and sanitised. The alternative without support of knowledge and strong criticism is stuffing our spaces with decorative junk.

Visual culture is fading into the landscape just as “expanded paintings”…

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