THE PRESENT TIME
If you had to give a concise definition how the present state of the world of art makes you feel, what aspects would you spend more time on?
The first feeling is one of multiplicity, united not to great possibilities but to a sort of overwhelming "horror vacui" with different aspects:
1. Intoxication because of the great quantity of "artists" and "works of art" who give themselves the title supported by Umberto Eco’s definition that "Art is everything people call art". This can be considered a licence for freedom but can also become, as it has, a paradise for pseudo artists and an open wound fro those who have artistic sensibilities, whether artists or art lovers.
of honesty on the part of artists and those around them turning Art into an
exclusively commercial, speculative phenomenon leaving to one side any element
of human transcendence. This has led certain works to be given very high prices
because they had been attributed to a particular artist; if the expert changes
opinion and decides the work is "false" it is worth nothing, but what does
‘false’ mean? That it isn’t artistic?
3. Saturation of images. We have at hand so many visual stimuli and works that are shown to us that we do not give ourselves for them to communicate what they want to communicate to us, painting needs a certain time for us to go through those visual rhythms which are suggested to us just like music needs time to be performed in, today we see paintings as if we were listening to symphonies at a thousand revolutions, perhaps this shortage of time has made the purpose so simple, perhaps if it were more complex we wouldn’t have time to stop and work it out.
4. The great paradox of art today. In the rational world rationalists argue that art does not belong to reason, it has no need for technical bases and it is the fruit of unreflecting and unconscious elements. Is this why in the U.S. they’ve taught chimpanzees to paint and found that they do it very well ? Could a critic today tell the difference between the work of a chimp and that of a modern, progressive human ? Could an expert in contemporary art hang up a picture correctly without the artist saying which way up to put it ? If art is a means of expression, why is it explained to us ? If it isn’t a means of expression, what is it ? Decoration?
5. Lack of content in the purest expressive sense since many current works seek to make the observer react by putting certain objects out of context (a bed in an exhibition room, etc.), there is a reaction, but is this reaction artistic ? Don’t we also react when we see a fire or an insect and this doesn’t make it artistic ? If this happened in the Contemporary Art Exhibition Room (ARCO) and with critical approval, would it become artistic?.
I don’t want to be dogmatic about the artistic scene or atmosphere, I will always defend freedom and the right of everybody who wants to face the challenge of creative activity, what I do want is for those who develop their freedom under the mixed bag of avant-garde, abstract expressionism and other labels not to try to make themselves superior saying this is the only way, their art responds to society today, they are not understood although they have the support of many ‘commercial’ institutions, not to try to drag down those artists who look for other, ways, other types of beauty, other roots.
I ask for artistic honesty: wonder at a work is no guarantee of its quality, we would also feel wonder if we bought a 500-page novel and all the pages were blank, or red, or repeated the same word, etc.. Would it be a printing error? Or would it be the latest idea of the expressionist – abstract poet who has bettered Cervantes? What is clear is that if there is a good economic motive to defend this last hypothesis many critics will appear and defend to the death this poetic display and nobody will say anything because if they did, others would consider them ignorant, insensitive and above all with no trace of modernity, and in this country we are very modern.
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