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The Artist as Degenerate Outcast

December 16th, 2009

These days, in fact for a long time now you need a thick skin if you are to follow an artistic painter path. Since being relegated to the status of worker only as a producer he or she been valued. That is, up until just recently. Of course, there are still the selected few always hungry to enjoy these fruits.

Okay, I begin to rant. I know that things in general are much as they have always been. Since Plato the artist/painter has played a marginal role. But, at least he had a role of sorts. Even as a worker he had a role of sorts, may be in many respects a healthier one.

A few days ago I found an English translation of the important speech of Aude de Kerros, pronounced (march 09) at the French “Académie des Beaux-Arts”. It looks at word games played with Art since the Second World War. I highly recommend that you read this. Then I would hope that you can understand that this sort of chicanery has been going on at least since the time of Plato. Recently, Courbet was imprisoned and then run out of France. Cezanne was stoned by village children and so on. Not to speak of unknown artists who starved to death in their garrets.

The thing interesting about this article is the suggestion that a big change in the business of art is taking place. It seems that the financial bubble burst has disturbed the connections between the good old boys who manipulated artistic matters on a global scale. There is the suggestion that art and the world of art is about to become more democratic. Imagine, then if you are an artist you will no longer be a degenerate outcast.

Published in french as L’artiste est un exclu

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Social and Oil Painting Connection

November 30th, 2009

In these writings I have focused on the connections and relationships primarily between the artist and the visual experience, and as well on the cultural/social connection with painting given its place today in the arts. Historical and political influences have to a lesser degree been touched upon. Given today’s social/political climate these considerations become difficult to approach, added with the fact that later nineteenth century intellectuals bypassed an analysis of social history and its relevancy to art. With few exceptions they were content with offering an analysis of the “masterpiece” as social history. The context of social history itself was dismissed.

The slave to beauty artistic attitude developed in the void of this rather sterile social/political situation. Oops, I wrote a rather judgmental word here. My wish is to write clearly without any reactionary digressions. When we begin looking at stuff like this clarity must be maintained. Understanding can only come when we suspend judgements and wipe the words from our eyes so to speak. That said, we have to ask why it is that mankind has found it so difficult to peacefully co-exist with each other. Social history in this area is not a pretty picture.

The relationships we can observe in recorded history between ideologies, social groups, religions, prominent philosophical thought, and the creative individual becomes pertinent when clearly considered. In saying “creative individual”, let us remember that we did not have anything approaching what we know to day as art until a mere couple of hundred years ago. We need some understanding of what we have on record (the text) and what had preceded it (social history, i.e., the context) which will be pursued in subsequent articles. Hopefully this can be done in a straightforward fashion. Simple but not easy!

Published in french as Rapport entre le social et la peinture à l’huile

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Artistic Awakening

August 18th, 2009

Each individual artistic path is not a linear affair, likewise with humanity. In the bigger scheme of things, our collective intellectual awakening was like a snap of the finger ago. Previous to this, “Truth” dictated all creative pursuit, likewise with scientific thought. Law and religious authority were the controlling factors in every facet of our lives. It is not even 400 years since Galileo dared question Earth’s role at the center of the universe. His argument for the theory of Copernicus earned him house arrest for the last 10 years of his life. He had said of the current doctrine: “Yes, but it is not elegant.” In the defence of elegance he paid a high price.

I believe that our creative and intellectual efforts have today reached a similar crossroad. Collectively, humanity has a choice to make. It is quite similar to conditions in Europe 400 years ago but in a very subtle way. Once again it is a question of elegance of thought.

A man before Galileo, William of Occam, succinctly put it this way: “The best model is the simplest one – the one requiring the fewest assumptions and modifications in order to fit the observations”. Do we still need today pundits who write and argue convoluted ideas about art and science? Why is it that so many of us are unable to tell the difference between a common criminal and a potential Nobel prize winner? Such questions beg for answers.

Published in french as Èveil artistique

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Simplicity & Order

June 29th, 2009

(The painter’s Desire Part II)

It is necessary to first read or reread my previous article "The Painter’s Desire". What follows is the result of some reflective thought following this article.

As a young man I found motocycles and airplanes to be on a higher order in terms of function and aesthetics. In both cases their highly refined function results in designs highly pleasing to our senses. When young I begin riding a motocycle and continue to this day. Why would a person devoted to an artistic path do such a thing? I should add that the motocycles that I ride are very fast motocycles. To me they do not make sense otherwise. For a couple of years, early on, I raced them. I quickly determined that this was a bit too dangerous for my taste.

Before my racing days, a friend had dubbed me the wild one-half. This was not long after Marlon Brando”s movie, "the Wild One". In order to be the wild one, first of all, a man must be a joiner. This I was not. I was not out to make a social statement, nor be part of a group large or small.

To maintain integrity as an artist or as a person is not an easy thing. If we react we lose our integrity. Likewise in going along with the croud. Simplicity and order is the pathway we follow to find a place where we can be of one piece. In this way we begin to hear that small fragil voice within that gives us direction in life as well as in art. Otherwise we are like the stupid fish asked to describe water.

Published in french as Ordre et Simplicité

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