top of page

The 'outsider or the insider'? Which do you trade Art with?

Stephen Hornsby-Smith

The medium of Painting has been revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, a trailblazer and remains an honourable medium. Practitioner's however don't know whether they are part of the establishment of Art or not? Many artist's on the UK turf have vocally denied that any form of Painting can be valid in the 21st century. I disagree. I may be part of an ancient artistic line but I revel in being an 'outsider' free from all the expectations and burden of being a 'responsible artist'. sure, Painting was instrumental in giving lifeblood to the Renaissance, sure it broke all the fetters of the 19th century addiction to representational realism, but I am Painter of the late 20th early 21st century and I like to wrestle with any artistic earthquake the soft smuggers of the Art market, the art educational institutions of Art as well as a relish of sending the Art academics the wrong way. New technologies come and go but hand to brush to canvas will always self-regulate how much the individual wants to access Art. Of course Painter's aren't Jedi's or light sabers and of course Painters do a lot of dross paintings too , but those experiences take them closer to new imagery and original reward. Let the other media of Art do the razzle dazzle, let them boast of how fashion can have a cat-walk in Mogadishu whilst bombs rain like rain over head. Find as many ways to explore hedonism, despair and stimulation - just remember that P for Painter is outside the tumult and is still seeing a perspective that those on train tracks can't. Painting can exclude and resent too but is in a perfect position to roam further with out Big Art brother looking over ones shoulder. In the meantime, our frontier spirit must recognize that we have a lead and a trail to follow, and we can either follow from a distance or we can re-make 'our wild west' and pick up our own trail?

Painter's have always led from the front, from cave drawings and pre-historic Britain, but the medium has been under attack from speculators from the Art world, forcing a run on the Medium, resulting in a much weakened currency. So much so that for over 30 years of me Painting for a 'living( a contradiction in terms perhaps), only the jagged edge and pincer movement of the finite parameters of Painting have reminded the Art world of our presence. We have largely been contained and off the grid. Instead a parallel universe of TV popular gimmickry replacing Painting as cutting edge and superseding it with quaint instead of belligerence has become he new soap opera. Painting bleeds through this euphemism as well as through negligence. I would have preferred Painting to be pierced through the heart rather than gently eased out of its pre-eminency. Wouldn't you? If I'm going to be hung by hacker's I'd prefer to look them in the eye before they pull a stunt and pretend I never existed.

There is no Artistic John Connor, just the one that has gone over to the dark side.(I know, mixing franchises). There's no doubt also that we were complacent and even complicit in not putting -up much of a fight against the witch-doctors of Academic and Art historical institutions who removed our ability to communicate at the top table of Art. But I'm not Painting to be told that Painting is in artistic rigomortis, and I'm not here to chase rainbows or go on a wild -goose chase just to burn brightly for a short time just to fizzle out! I'm too young and too old to be told what to do! Like many who started before the 'Cold War' ended, playing Russian roulette, chasing tornado's, or artistic suicide ain't my cup of tea. I'm not going to charge like the 'Charge of the Light brigade', but I am interested in self-transformation beyond being attracted to what's in front of my nose.

People like me are (more by chance than anything else) survivors who don't need pranks to PR or spin to share our work. I don't want to simply show-case my work I want to reverse the creeping marginalization of Painting and Art in general to the British public.'Let them eat soap' is how conceptual art will eventually be vandalized by the 'we need something new and fast' brigade. What comes around goes around. Then and only then will I join my CA colleagues to expedite all sorts of change that Art alone can communicate.

I'm not praying for another Renaissance, but I am praying that the Artistic Spanish Inquisition will be brought to justice by the great democratizing influence that Art can bring.

bottom of page