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Abandonment complex

Stephen Hornsby-Smith

This 'abandonment complex' of 21st century Painting is meant to traumatize, but it does the exact opposite: Painting is our 21st century mask of being excluded from the top table of Art which we can either reveal and suffer the fall from grace in public or we can remain incognito and detached even indifferent from great expectation of envy and the predictable 'run on the pound' on the currency of our Painting medium in which the Art elite contrive to relegate not just the work but many Artists who have dedicated their practice to the medium. In times of Painter recession we would do well to remember that we can get back to the canvas without being required to fulfill any rites of passage that we'd have to if we were courting the Art elite.

I meant to ask myself how and why do I make use of the often exhausting but painstaking slow grind of paint on canvas or painted 3D work when my mates are steaming ahead and making their mark in other media more conducive to exact their ideas immediately? But why should I be in a position where I am on the horns of a dillemna as to whether to quit Painting altogether and even abandon all Art practice?

Hour upon hour of slow progress replicating, recreating, repeating mistakes, making ground only to have to concede that the dying natural light (which can both infuse and dominate how a painting might take) defeats any traction or texture of what I want to do to the Painting..... Nothing but thankless a task! How can I retaliate when I can't keep up with the generation of ideas and spontenaiety that rapid action demands? Even Action Painters can't keep up with the immediacy of other artistic inspiration! Or so it appeared to the abstract expressionist's in post-war New York. Doesn't this now seem to be a forlorn escapade of even Pollock desperately trying to make the 'here now not here then'. Oh my,poor Pollock! Surely even Artist's can't beat time! But every phyric failure has its day, it's just that Painting is often buried by Pollock and his cohorts as the 'last of the Painters' because they 'failed'to keep-up. Not so! 'Actionist's' often see themselves as ending something or starting something, they are that self-important! But they did posit the valid question: Is technology and new materials ( especially digital image making today) so much more contemporary a Rolls Royce compared with Paintings 'Old banger'? Are Painters bereft of even 'returning serve' in a game they can't win? Indeed how much are Art buffs enjoying the process of stigmatizing or devaluing Painting so that their own stock fairs better? Aren't Painter's their own worst enemies in a self-defeating outcome if it remains dependent upon the instantaneous?

Let's try to apply scientific examination to explain why Painters don't need to worry about not being contemporary and not being able to explain our 'immediate society' with a canvas ,some paints and an easel. Whilst the rest of the avant-garde, now more than ever due to popular participation in' Selfie Art' (often encourage the use of digital apps to instruct our lap-tops or mobiles) to produce instantly and without human imperfection 'formulaic 21st century' Poloaroid Art' I think I can justify the up to date medium of Painting. Let me first outline the 'canvas' of today: To assume that Painting is a self-inflicted sentence of self-harm is to not just a refusing to open ones eyes but to refuse to open ones mind as well. Here I borrow scientific procedure by introducing 'Gradualism' that is the very essence of scientific experiment where the facts are assembled not through conjecture but through the rigours of testing ones practice even in the field of Art, which is notoriously ravenous for new didacticism. What happens is that instead of the work being ground breaking it is the iconoclastictic 'rejecting' of established practice that 'becomes' the all too important an issue at the expense of any 'ground breaking work. That's a twist! Substitution by relegation is no way to test for good practice!

So here's my test of Painting: Why is Painting important today? The answer is about 'Time'. Time? What? Simply speed up a film of a moving car driving past a fixed point and if you speed it up enough there will be no car in the image. What does this achieve? Maximum speed becomes the optimum speed that gives you an image that appears to not have changed at all. Doesn't this answer the question about the instantaneous being presumably too quick for Painters to capture? Suddenly it is not that action is too quick for Paint to capture, but that it is not fast enough to catch-up with Paint! Yet only Paint can keep-up yet keep still ! Sorry Jackson but your self-important 'Last of the tribe 'of Painters doesn't sustain an argument, or should I say, doesn't keep-up with the argument! Alpha to omega brother! Do the math!

So we do live in an era of : 'Without perspective' or in an era of 'false perspective'? This is the buzz word paradise of Art geeks! It is an invention of contemporary Art which seeks to control Art by Artspeak! that has little time for Painter's today prefering the chase and race 'launching new tech Art by back-channeling conceptual Art' at the same time. But when was Art without politics and popular manipulation in any era? Whilst Art is taking the 'great leap forward' it can't abide 'hangers-on' or 'middle-aged media' that many often sledge as Painting. The standing unspoken joke in Art circles today is : 'How many Painter's does it take to change a conceptual Art light bulb? to which the answer is : 'What's a Painter?' A taste of Humble-pie and genuflection before the altar of high Art still beats egg on faces!

Now we can promote the idea that Painting isn't 'lifeless' just because you have to read between the lines not just between the brush strokes. Today's 'perspective' isn't showing distance and harmony but the whole panoply of the Artist's range - that is the labour intensive skill-set that isn't relying upon technique bought and sold in Colleges by way of a certificate but hard won on the battle-field of slugging it out to make the desperately slow process a process of constancy and loyalty and faith in the work itself. My particular thing is the expanse of 'Colour' in Painting; it is my perspective. But this isn't about hallowed or ancient rituals, sure this is about the discipline and bursts of energy and its opposite, 'Painter's block', which is a necessary endurance for this 'fermentation process' of Painting to work its magic. Magic is illusive and very rare, but how else can you value anything without hardship, even if it is the hardship of 'oversight ' or neglect from the rest of the Art community. But isn't Art about self-discovery as well as aesthetic revelation? This is not just consideration and mapping-out of the next move on canvas but a way to find a method that is specific to every individual Painter. This is submerging into every Media around and magnifying these influences so that It can be worthy of Paint.

Perhaps more than any other artist the fate of the Painter requires more than fast footwork to heal the gap between inspiration and image on the medium. Fixate at speed and the instant/present at your peril ! The route of 'idea overkill'has too many victims already Fulfill the 'Artist pledge' to put Art before him/her self. Artist 'Hypocratic oaths' are not taken lightly, and you might wind-up in the service of those or someone that you never wanted to be in in the first place. But all or nothing ! Yeah!?! So what becomes of those who didn't choose to be 'free or die'?!? All victories and all failures are the same offspring but in different chronological order, and should empower from the first beginnings of paint on 'caves' to Paint placed on time capsules hurtling through the unknown universe of the imagination. Therefore to me Painting is the derivation of all things positive and haunting visualized from infancy to senility,all of King Lear's seven stages of life that gives us a constant re-birth, our 'modernistic iconoclastic 21st century Renaissance', where we return to the 19th and 20th centuries for much of the subject matter as the Renaissance did to Greek and Roman antiquity. We do both 'Dad's Army' as comedy and the SAS as drama hinged or unhinged. Is there any such polymorphous art medium than Painting? Of course! But that's your job not mine! What I do is to use Paint where I believe I have a chance of Painting the extremes without having to be an extremist. Alchemy is beyond me, but perhaps not you! Teach me how you do it?! If the shuttle of time is pushed to extremes then I have ancestry that predates the leopard and descendants who will postdate the spots on its coat, so why not!?! I am man who can change his spots and will try to be an avid listener with a will to learn

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