Review of Melting Snow Papercuts



Although original authorship of this reproduction of an image from a painting is not questioned, the transference of it to a new medium brings both a new drama and friction to the original. How valid is this? Do they debase each other or detract from each other?

Struggle is ever present in every work by artists. Struggling to overcome any artist’s determination to preserve his/her artistic integrity is always fraught with danger. However this is amplified if a ‘Painter is making paint not just a point but a mutually exclusive principle of his /her art practice, to strive for absolute loyalty to a Painter’s remit. How can a self-imposed exile in the desert of unfashionability (the medium of‘Painting’) justify the ‘prostitution’ of his/her hard fought work to a contemporary superficial repro? Why should he/she compromise after ‘taking the Painting Pledge’ for 28 years? Must he/she abandon his/her loyalties or question the integrity of his/her work?

The answer is most revealing. Andre reproduces but lights-up a snow scene of melting disintegration to metaphorically represent an agony of identity that unravels him. Real trauma exists in his ‘medium’ of self-inquisition, his fear of both under and over production and his anxiety of commercialism splitting his artistic integrity. As the Painter of the original image from which the paper-cut is derived from, I feel responsibility for and can appreciate his exile and oscillation between over-rationalisation and its complete laissez-faire opposite. Yet with this paper-cut he redeems himself by establishing its beauty per se, compelled, trapped, imprisoned and left in a shallow grave of paradoxically deep shadows of pathos and tragedy. This troubled work is also life-affirming and justifies its immediate appeal, and removes any deliberate moral confusion that was the narrative of the original. This is one of Andre’s strongest works, and it provides great pleasure for those willing to chance. This should commit Andre not to squander this work, and its merit has to be unique.

However, can this be said of his carpet repro again from one of my paintings? It appears too manufactured too clinical and it separates the author of the original from production. Art must not just be ‘hand made’, it has to have human contact literally and metaphorically, for it to work. It at first sight has colours that are true and images that, on the whole are sound, but it does not have the same gravitas as his Paper-cut. Sorry, but it doesn’t help that production is continents apart contributing to it being rendered ‘assembled’ on a meaningless factory production line. But I’m promised that it has artistic merit on its reputed ‘courageous’ new carpet medium, but I’m struggling to get enthusiastic about its aesthetic validity. Working hard and putting in the hours have successfully brought this enterprise to the brink of commercial success, but it’s not in the same league as your brave paper-cut Andre. Indeed, if you ever courted mass commercialism vis a vis the Paper-cut you would be committing an artistic crime, but maybe the individual value of your carpets would provide a commercial opportunity that compounds method with commercial sense, and therefore injects the adrenalin of risk, flush with momentum.


© 2020 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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