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Painting after Cyrus Written by David Sweet The following remarks are assembled in response to some of the issues raised in two recent articles on abstract critical by Stephen Moonie and David Ryan. Both essays challenge the romantic project implicit in many of the other contributions and comments on this site, telling instead a progressive story related to abstract painting that some abstract painters might not want to hear.
Both texts are informed by a historical sense of the cultural crisis surrounding painting, usurped by tendencies set in motion by the rise of performance art, or visually outpaced by new screen based media. But they are not obsequies.
Both writers seem to wish painting well, suggesting it has survived, but in an altered state: Painting is not dead, but changed.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the art of recent times seems to be trying to escape aesthetic scrutiny, or to give it little to work with. This results in an interesting situation when considering someone like Gerhard Richter. This move away from defining painting through material norms or constants, e.
Everyone seems to agree that painting lost its privileged position as lead medium of the visual arts some time ago, and some may remember that rumours of its demise caused a certain excitement, even glee, amongst critics and artists working in other disciplines. But the glory of its past achievements could not easily be ignored or duplicated.
It seems to me that, in the name of cultural justice and medium equality, the myth of painting, the afterglow of its achievements, had to be dismantled. Many contemporary artists prefer to work across or between disciplines or opt for the hybridity of installation.
Currently they seem to adopt a policy of diversification and reticence, avoiding the possibility of producing a collective phenomenon that could be mistaken for a movement or school, and raise the old spectre of hegemony. For now anyway they see themselves pursuing painting as a multi-channelled practice.
Self-limiting diversification and reticence are signs that painting, in order to go on, has had to become increasingly critical of its own mythology in its quest for rehabilitation. What the work had in common was that it had caught the eye of the selector, Dan Sturgis, who went out of his way, in his catalogue essay, to avoid appearing to promote any agenda.
The emphasis was on the single work, with each exhibit having a short essay appended to its reproduction, which carried through the notion of separation and differentiation.
It would be hard to imagine that sense of individual diversity across the same number of figurative paintings. When writing on the subject myself I argued that the power of the screen was based partly on its identification with the future rather than the past. They were obliterating it, covering it in a protective, luxurious lagging which hid its complex function.
The choice then seemed to be between having the surface flayed smooth to look like photography, or smothered with thick pigment, to resemble a multi-coloured quilt.
Furthermore, taking the history of TV as an example, it could be argued that screens have been unwittingly involved in a modernist, medium-specific purification, as they have approached these norms, declaring their delimited flatness ever more brazenly in successive innovations.The purely visual, by its very nature is a 2D data set, flatness assumes a complete 2D data set, outside of the problematic nature of an image and its ‘thickness’.
Your curriculum has opened our eyes to the world and broadened our compassion for those in other cultures. The writing projects have been an excellent tool to start discussions about life with our children.
The world is moving to UTF8, MySQL has utf8mb4 charset as default now, but, to be honest, I was pretty surprised how sensible the "charset" related topic could be..
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