Is this Painting a beast of collapse and paralysis?



Is this Painting a beast of collapse and paralysis or a symmetrical coexistence of abstraction and the representational? Is the division of the work unsettling? How does the modernistic versus the representational contain or support the Painting? How many styles of the 'formal' content also sub-divide into their own identity or genre? Why is an eponymously benign even bland snowscape in a city so relevant to my state of mind completed in the hottest summer in Britain since the infamous 1976 summer (notwithstanding the 'red herring idea of a 'winter of discontent')? Why do I insist on trying to manipulate subject matter without being committed to its nearest combo of the 'language' of 'surrealism'? Neither nor might however contain the answer to it: This opens up the friction between the representational and the more minimalistic geometric etc shapes. Can one contain both under the same roof? Look at the roof covered with ice sheets and snow breaking-up the masonry and splitting the building on the left only! Does that answer the question? So what happens when we join this image with its mirror image or a reversible juxtaposition of the image? Surely a formulaic 'construction'of a Painting has the legs to enable me to do that? Is this the final images that I seek?

This is a battlefield fought in Winter without the presence of people, where I've subdivided into sections formal opposites like block design and more detailed 'naturalism'. It is certainly beneath the surface where we are not sure and more uncertain. We are not sure of the extent of the glacial brute force at work or whether it's a melting process ripping-up buildings enforcing cracks on the surface of masonry.Here lies our part to play : Do we find convincing the surface of our cherished belief in the sentimentality of the seasonal snowscape fit for a postcard, being trashed? What is this rather almost bland image doing trying to tamper with our comfort zone? Here lies our security blanket being covered with a blanket of cold snow in which we can not freeze the frame of it and just pop it into our positive memory bank to be unearthed when we want a 'holiday' from the humdrum but 'can't afford' one. So does glacial turbulence and force wreck whilst juxtaposed with the largely unaffected and unmoved with designer snow resting on the picturesque ? Doesn't this divide opinion? Here man is humbled by corrosive power and violence of nature in the face of nurture. This stylisation of the town departmentalized by formal conflict evokes the idea that these compete for the 'light of the sun'( Art being the sun) above the branches and canopy of concrete metal and glass and are being ripped asunder in front of each other to make way for either the concrete or the glacial.

I have tried to minimalize the more naturalistic and let the blocks of a limited colour palette dominate. This is a deliberate attempt paradoxically to remind us of how easily we have become subliminally used to the 'modern' in advertizing, TV, gaming digitalization in our homes etc, that has ingrained the modernism of the early 20th century Painter's and architects like Le Corboisier, the influence of Bauhaus etc. We have been lab rats passively accepting the pervasive omnipotent annexation of the modernistic image from its theoretical principles, whilst being entertained by more popular contemporary forms of Art and the popular performance of a ritual of 'how pretentious, ugly and irrelevant the 'beds and sharks' are to our lives. The public have become irreverent and the Art has become irrelevant -it's is the reality TV Art game show of our era! We don't want to question Art we want stand-up comedy, we want tabloid does Art and Art does tabloid the sequel.

Perhaps this is where the trains decide to deride our poor choices where it glares and glowers at us in a beam of its harsh light to expose our artistic malaise and ignorance. Meanwhile the Art market still back channels conceptual Art hegemony by auction of 20th century work as 'historical'! Modernism is being sold -off to the highest bidder - that's right the big auction houses are selling-off a philosophy, that they can historicize and therefore blot-out its critique that may just ask too many questions not revolving around dope or drink and any other cliches that 'a rock an' roll' lifestyle Painter's are meant to have. 160 years plus! 160 years of 'modernistic renaissance' wrapped-up and sealed in a deep dark vault in someones need to control the modernistic zeitguist. It shrieks of false imprisonment! But what happens if we're left with the Possibilities of Abstraction versus the representational? How do we resolve it other than telling everyone to move the goal posts or even telling everyone that the beautiful game never existed? I refer to the trains beams for guidance. These are fierce beams of light that could be 'lighthouse' warning us of when we are too close to the rocks, or a Cyclops denuding us of our individual worth See if you can find the claws, tallons or scrapings that relate to the over balancing of the 'glacier-like rock of ice' forcing by its implacable momentum and crushing everything in its way; compare that with the restrained unaffected almost snowless areas of the painting, resistant to any such 'winter'. But there is no political slant here, and it is free of the gills of cynicism. If any influence is apparent it is the idea of the left side of the brain versus the right side of the brain in inevitable combat to decide which will prevail. Remember the colour palette is restricted to blues, browns and white removing any other colour to represent the sunset or dawn, which is at counterpoint to the expansion of possibilities that I hope I have offered.

Someone said quite unfairly of this painting that it reminded them of 'organ harvesting' of the modernist to impose on today's generation. Compulsory modernism is actually a contradiction in terms even if self-destruction is its forte. I think that contemporary conceptual Art trivializes whilst attempts to 'stuff'(taxidermy)modernism of today; never have i believed that a 'prosac society' needed any more sedation! Art shouldn't be Mrs Brown's boys goes Casualty! Trying too hard to be radical with water colours means that we are semi-conscious and not self-aware! We have to include in the maelsrtrom of negative news about competing visual hypotheses (to you and me the ..'isms') that Painting oils and acrylic affords contemporary values of resentment and 'shadenfreude' as a function of society. Duly noted but I believe there are more valuable lessons to be learnt about the process of exclusion and the particular loyalty shown to the medium against this prevailing 'Art' world giddy with post marxist post feminist need to destroy and take the winning side of the virtual reality 'barricades' without having to throw a punch, or more importantly take a punch. Designer over-reaction and arm-chair revolution! This non-loser ticket was the bullwork of every latest 1990s edition of 'let me join please' playground for the comfortable radicals nestled in a playground mentality. Like the arctic winter on selected parts of the image, it seems immovable.

We Painter's were at anger with the nobs, but they gave us a padded cell within a comfortable setting of an aristocratic estate. Funny that! If you are in a padded cell you will never know what beautiful gardens lie outside. Perhaps Soviet times explains why a politburo member would have offered his estate so readily for such matters. Anonymity away from the bread queues certainly does the job! Perhaps Eagles albums were made in Siberia - how would we know?! A bit of a far cry from 'punk squat'! If we are not careful we'll get 2 tickets to Disney Land for our complicit participation in the exercize of 'selective exclusion'? But even that is a cliche! Cheap Art porn becomes pop-porn, the arctic bulldowser of our era!?! Draw your own conclusions!!!!

No doubt over-thinking or over painting are useful activities to distract as is information overload. Conforming to the minimalistic blocks of dark geometric shapes towering over the foreground of Apres ski hostelries and chalets bursting without any custom, bent and splitting with the weight of the snow on top of it is mirrored literally and metaphorically as abandonment with our connivance as is our recognition of the bricked-up factories emptied of activity and drained of a workforce, any vehicle of any description, and colour This is a major motif :What has happened to all the frenzy of activity? All the family of action has been consumed by dereliction and hazards remaining equating with the winter. Are there paranoid thoughts that tempts us into bleak thoughts or even sinister thoughts? Is this 'ice-rage' by glacial time that is implacable and immovable? Is this the 'ice-age' a permenant part of what we see and what we feel? Where is the quaint snowy picture postcard now? Where do wefind context now?There is no clock in any part of the Painting only the broken and the resistant of time. There is no surplus no luxury where we are not sure that the slates across the windowed buildings are keeping the inside out of the world or the outside prevented from getting in? Could snow and ice be building-up? Why are the only footprints almost completely concealed in specifically contrived ways? There is only on persons footprints not necessarily ours,perhaps turning back on itself?

I've tried to avoid politics here, but is there an apt reference to climate change and specifically global warming by reverse psychology? Or is over-population here again illustrated here where there are no people in the Painting? Climate change is often resented by industrialized countries seeing unilaterally an economic advantage in not following their competitors often expensive lead in taking action against unsustainable pollution levels. This paralysis is often meat and drink to the Left who often demand that global action be taken out of the hands of the money men of industry to reinforce pollution cuts.

Yet it is the political Achilles heel of the Left when population targets get kicked into the long grass in a laissez faireist attitude of the Left, who secrete their de-prioritizing of this issue for the more juicy ammo of carbon' genocide' as the most popularist party lines! Spin unfortunately kicks in and the 'non sexy issue of 'it's not the wealthy's fault' gets put to the backburner. I won't and neither would the Left want me to patronize it by wrapping them in cotton wool, but natural selection does impact on the Left's decision to back a policy at the expense of some other policy.

Like this painting the political dynamic can be more than frosty to new ideas. Why put them on Sainbury's shelves when they may be untested in proper lab conditions? Give it time to breathe, to address its context and see if it can survive the rigours of competition. Like the Painting the land of concrete, pot-holes, metal and wood are concealed from us by a layer of snow - who can say that what is concealed or what the concealment offers itself is something ordinary,ugly or beautiful?The only question for us is: Are we glued and hanging-on like stalagtites clinging on to the past or are we growing organically like a root-crop of stalagmites cultivated and grounded? But perhaps this Painting serves as a reminder of the conflict resolution of when the Left and Right sides of the brain work together modernism is at its most convincing in the 21st century.


© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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