2015 Series/Volume


HOME | DOING AWAY WITH THE "ISSUE" | THE PREVIOUS SERIES/VOLUMES | EXHIBITIONS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US


advertisements


 

Uploaded March 18, 2015

FACEBOOK FACEOFFS


 

On Originality in Art, The Primal Gaze, and The Sublime

 

reflections by Gromyko Semper with Andrew Paul Wood

 


 

a collage titled "Family" by Olaf Breuning, borrowed from http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/olaf_breuning_family.htm
 

 

 




GROMYKO Semper

I will start with this quote from the Bible:

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."…

so what’s all this fuss about artists being "original'?

Andrew Paul Wood

To paraphrase Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Eighth Commandment was not writ for artists. Human beings don't really change all that drastically over centuries, which is why there has always been a premium on novelty and the exotic

I suspect that has been changing since the advent of the Internet

Gromyko Semper

Agreed…but art critics, well, those being paid by artists, are saying that "original works of art" exist…

I for one believe that in our derivative postmodern cyber-age, such a thing cannot exist

Andrew Paul Wood

I think you can have novel syntheses, but as to whether that is the same thing as originality, I couldn't say. What does originality even really mean?

Gromyko Semper

Exactly…a synthesis of disparities…like with a collage…

Well, I think it depends on the viewer and is always subjective

In alchemy we call it a coincidentia oppositurom, a union of opposites…

Andrew Paul Wood

Perhaps a bricolage—it seems to fit with the whole Lyotardian notion of the fragmenting of society
 

 



"'History painting became propaganda for propaganda's sake. Not that Napoleon hired so many great artists to glorify himself.' . . . 'He just had a better quality of propagandist.'"

 


 

a bricolage by Frank Vagnone at the Crane Art Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA [photo by libbyrosof and borrowed from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bricolage]

 


Art becomes a sort of problem-solving of how to arrange the fragments

Gromyko Semper

But what I’m really getting at is the way artists, specially up-and-coming, not to mention already-established artists, are saying…that what they do are "original works"…hence their self-proclaimed "isms"…

And once a person who reads Art History 101 approaches them, saying it’s already been done, they get angry and say "fuck off," don’t mess with me :-)

Andrew Paul Wood

Well, to be fair, on that level they are original works—they come out of a person's unique responses to the world, filtering out the significant from the banal, and every person is a unique being; so, inevitably, art that is personal to them is original on some level, even if the ideas, materials or techniques are not.

Gromyko Semper

On your Facebook page, we talked about how a certain unique form of art can exist provided that an artist/creative individual who aspires to develop/hone his talent and skill imbibes his works with a certain "uniqueness" sans the hierarchy of source material and plenty of self-aware irony

And on my Fb post I spoke of the glorification of clichés

And somehow we both agree that a certain degree of isolation can produce a uniquely individual vision

Andrew Paul Wood

I don't think clichés are inherently bad—clichés are the bite-sized chunks we break the world down into in order to understand something of the whole. There is a seed of truth in them that makes them clichés—the stuff of life

Gromyko Semper

I do agree on the contextual originality of objets d'art…but what I’m saying is that the dilemma for most upcoming/budding creative souls is finding a unique individual voice to express them with…

Well, that is true, clichés aren’t "evil" per se, but the overemphasis on them does lead to a misinterpretation of "life"…and oftentimes they each become a one-sided view of life itself…

Andrew Paul Wood

But isn't that what certain kinds of art do—reduce things to their irreducible essence?

Or at least a stylised version

Gromyko Semper

The artist, then, becomes engrossed in bellying the idea that an apotheosised cliché-art is the jive of the zeitgeist…same thing happens when a newbie sees the auction results…and thus the conundrum of art-for-auction works continue…

Andrew Paul Wood

Hence, zombie formalism

Gromyko Semper

Yes, I am aware of such a deduction…but what I’m after is that certain, call them "blessed," artists are setting the trend…and the trend is that (particularly in the Philippine art scene) an artwork becomes a highly commoditized vision of shallow juxtapositions glorifying a previously successful work which tasted the same blessings from the art gods

Gromyko Semper

Indeed…

Zombie formalism

How does one paint in the context of society framed by the technological and the commercial?

Andrew Paul Wood

The menu touristique

Gromyko Semper

Souvenirs d'art

China is so good at it…the Chinese glorify themselves by raising their artists' banner high up in the upper echelons of the crazy art world

Andrew Paul Wood

Technology is a two-edged sword—it can open up new horizons, forge new connections between people, or it can make you lazy, dependant, unoriginal—that's even without bringing up the tired old ghost of Benjamin's "aura of authenticity"

Gromyko Semper

I believe that a creative soul of this age can still produce works of art that don’t have to be accordant to the zeitgeist menu touristique…but it involves conditioning one's vision to adapt to a "primal gaze"

Andre Breton, the wave doyen of Surrealism, suggested a "savage eye"

What do you think?

Andrew Paul Wood

I'm not really convinced that Breton really understood visual artists—his relationships with them were always rather fraught because most of them didn't want to be bound to his concept of Surrealism

Gromyko Semper

I agree to that, but what I’m referring to

is how one can view things differently

old stuff seen with a fresh eye

sans the irony that is often the weapon contemporary artists employ

Andrew Paul Wood

I do think there is the need for a kind of "re-enchantment" of the image. This has roots in Breton's animistic "savage gaze" but also takes into account Heidegger's "Dasein"—the isness and paradox of being, and Deleuze's "Immanence"—all experience being part of a single plane

Gromyko Semper

Exactly…

The painter Ernst Fuchs also addressed the same issue, although apparently he didn’t go far beyond European mysticism…

He did say something like "a return to the primal beauty of things"

The question is, how does one achieve that?

Surely it’s not by some entheogen ingested by mische technique works, though I must admit they are pretty fun, but that’s just touching one side of the plane…

Andrew Paul Wood

One way, I think, is the wonder of science

Gromyko Semper

I like that word, re-enchantment…

Ah, yes…the frontier most people dismiss

The revelations and innovations of our age are pretty surprising, but it seems that very few creatives are pondering them

They are still engrossed with the Sisyphean question "what is Art?"

Andrew Paul Wood

The novelist and scientist C P Snow used to talk about the two worlds, science and the humanities, that were becoming dangerously unintelligible to each other. Others talk of a third space where you can find things like popular explainers of science—I think some original art might fit in there

Gromyko Semper

Salvador Dali acknowledged that when he wrote his manifesto on Nuclear Mysticism

He barely touched the surface, though

Metaphysical art was abandoned…Surrealism co-opted…no more reading…people are too lazy to think…

Andrew Paul Wood

History painting is an area that I feel has some room, too, because history is something that's always being revised from the perspective of the present

Gromyko Semper

So they just do the Koons and the Hirst dance

 

one of Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dogs" (1994-2000) [photo borrowed from http://nyclovesnyc.blogspot.com/2013/11/balloon-dog-orange-by-jeff-koons-on.html]

 

Damien Hirst's "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (1991) [photo borrowed from http://magazine.art21.org/2012/02/02/on-view-now-damien-hirsts-spot-paintings-and-the-joy-of-color/new-tate-season/]

 

Indeed…but people are still clinging to their old hags…social realist murals, kitschy Kim Jong Il- and Marcos-like ads

History painting became propaganda for propaganda's sake

Not that Napoleon hired so many great artists to glorify himself

Andrew Paul Wood

He just had a better quality of propagandist

Gromyko Semper

But the thing is, people consider less History and would rather talk about auction results

and whats "in"

Andrew Paul Wood

Do artists really care about auction results when they will never see any of that money?

Gromyko Semper

The ephemerality of contemporary culture is depressing, to say the least

Over here they do; in fact, any upcoming artist—according to gallery managers/promoters—must be in the auctions to be considered successful

Art Flippers (art mafias, billionaire pseudo-art lovers) understand the $$$ sign more than the artist's message

Andrew Paul Wood

Very few living artists in New Zealand would be going to auction until they were already well-established with esteemed dealers

Gromyko Semper

Those who long for the re-enchantment in art do write about the zombie formalists' bite, but they don't seem to penetrate the already-whitewashed, auction-thickened skins of the zombies…

Well, at least the art scene there is not as absurd as here in Southeast Asia!

Over here, if you want to be a successful artist you have to remove all your "poetic mysticism" in favor of a more cool and hyped-up hyperreal photorealist style like that by Ronald Ventura

I'm not blaming him for his "success"…I'm merely citing him because a lot of up-and-coming younger generation of visual creators here are mimicking him and barely touching his grounds…

Andrew Paul Wood

It tends to be quite conservative here, certain artists dominate. I suppose a major difference is that we have much more state funding of artists than we do private patronage

Gromyko Semper

I'm glad to hear that it's different there. Over here it's a riot

Andrew Paul Wood

Well, hopefully you will get to experience the difference

Gromyko Semper

I hope so…anyways, returning to the more "general" state of our art…

Do you think there's a cure or should we even look for a cure on this zombie formalized armada that had been infecting Asia?

And what can you tell younger artists here on how to hold on to their "vision"?

Andrew Paul Wood

Asia is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is nearly impossible to break into the international markets as anything less than a quaint exotic bird. And China's art market is entirely self-contained. Marketability is therefore not necessarily something to strive for

The Internet offers a real opportunity to bypass the whole decadent mess

Gromyko Semper

To see a world in a grain of sand…and a Heaven in a wild flower…hold infinity in the palm of your hand…and Eternity in an hour…

Andrew Paul Wood

Blake was every inch an entrepreneur

Gromyko Semper

But a visionary nevertheless…hahahaha

Andrew Paul Wood

Perhaps the trick is to try to find a niche balanced between the two

Gromyko Semper

But not as rich as a Joshua Reynolds…lol…I remember him writing a whole art criticism course on Reynolds, et al

That was fun to read…

Andrew Paul Wood

Still useful, too

Gromyko Semper

Indeed…balanced between vision and market

Andrew Paul Wood

Actually, William Blake may be the model par excellence

You have to have the eye and the hustle

Gromyko Semper

The key is how to see something marvelous in a grain of corporate mass-produced sand :-)

and a GMO of a wild flower :-)

and here, Science can shed light!

Remind me to continue Brian Green's universal threads :-)

Andrew Paul Wood

Marvelous or terrifying—both are facets of the sublime. I really think we're heading back to Romanticism

Gromyko Semper

We seldom or rarely become mystified nowadays

The romantic notion of the sublime indeed must be re-viewed

Narratives should be expressed in art, not written as a long rant to go with the presentation of a postmodern or post-postmodern work

I'm not saying Traditionalism should be upheld

But look at the works of Kate MccGwire!

http://www.katemccgwire.com/

Andrew Paul Wood

Art about art isn't really all that new—in the 17th-century, allegories of painting were practically calling cards

 

"The Allegory of Painting" (1665-16668) by Jan Vermeer [photo borrowed from http://wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/drawing/the-art-of-painting-by-johannes-vermeer_20848.htm]

 

Gromyko Semper

Now allegories are boring, or so the art flippers who wouldn't care to browse a book or know Umberto Eco would say…

I used to like what Manuel Ocampo was doing…now he just jives with the zeitgeist, though he still rants about his anti-art establishment hullabaloos

Andrew Paul Wood

Our expanded understanding of the macrocosmic and microcosmic from the Hubble Telescope to the Large Hadron Collider surely must inspire the philosophical mind. But maybe that's all a little too rarified

 

The Large Hadron Collider [photo borrowed from http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/large-hadron-collider]

 

Gromyko Semper

What was once 1 percent of the cerebellum that we use was reduced to 0.1!!!! From dumb to dumberer…and I won't call it evolution

Andrew Paul Wood

But we're not—we're actually getting smarter, cleverer. But are we getting any wiser?

Gromyko Semper

Spot-on question to all, not just to aspiring creatives

We learn, but what do we do after? Do we just write it on books, get the freaking Nobel Prize, and then have the book gather dust on some weird man's library?

We marvel at the news of a newly-discovered planet that is almost the same as ours, yet what do we do with that info?

We merely digest and congest…

We have forgotten how to sow…and see

Andrew Paul Wood

No, we paint landscapes of what we imagine it might be like

Gromyko Semper

The age of innocence…all a freaky Youjizz porn-show title now…

Yes, we "create"

Utopia…such a beautiful word

Andrew Paul Wood

On that note it's time for me to sleep—I hope you have enough material

Gromyko Semper

Hahahaha…I do now…

May Hypnos fill your dreams with visions, and may your eye be filled with the primal gaze

Thank you, Andrew, and Goodnight!

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."—Edgar Allan Poe  [ d ]

 

 

-----------------------------------------
Gromyko Semper is an artist based in Cabanatuan. Largely self-taught, his works are contemporary syntheses of metanarratives derived from literature, mythology and creative invention, both Classical and Romantic. He has exhibited in France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Austria, Mexico, the United States, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
     Andrew Paul Wood is a writer, poet, critic, art historian, educator, curator and translator based in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is currently completing his PhD in aspects of postmodern New Zealand painting at the University of Canterbury.


 


 

------------------------------------------------------------
© copyright 2015 Gromyko Semper and Andrew Paul Wood. All rights reserved.

 

 

 


HOME | DOING AWAY WITH THE "ISSUE" | THE PREVIOUS SERIES/VOLUMES | EXHIBITIONS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US


 

LIKE/SUBSCRIBE:

 

 

 
   

 

© 2014-2016 diskurso art magazine online. all rights reserved.

diskurso is an independent, Philippines-based online magazine on art aiming to veer away from a present mental landscape replete with the customary peacock and weasel words that continue to service the art industry.