Today we have a window of opportunity to excite and engage the 'modernist image' for today without the interfering narrow confines of the failed narrative of abstract versus the representational as polar opposites mutually hostile to each other. Indeed, today we choose not to fuel these mutually exclusive warlords of Art. Even the finite, the restrictive and the prescriptive are no longer at war with the relativist, hegemonic degenerate deconstruction or over emphasis on structuralism or post-structuralism. We must ask ourselves what gain did Art get from the social production not just of Art but of the all-embracing social, economic political suffocation by dialectical materialism on today's generation of Art educators and practitioners? What have we gleaned from this largely 20th century misfiring? Perhaps it is that the uber cool 'Z' generation of today will themselves become obsolete in the near future - we have learnt therefore that nothing is permanent and that every generation has to adapt. But what has emerged also from the sterile debate between modern and post-modern is that we do live in a pro-Painting era without any conditions of form to stunt Painting progress . We do live in a post-form time but not admittedly free of Ludditism or urbane over-indulgence but we must win our own battles with image originality first. It is of seminal importance to me that to confront and select how to turn-off dependency on the digital and all social media world will gain true access to life and its benevolence. But that is the job of the 'Z' generation because they above all in society are absolutely co-existent with it but most offended by the baby-boomer generation who aren't and who, it is argued, have whittled away freedoms and economic independence for following generations who now have to pay for it. In effect, they deplore their uber cool being spent on uber drool !!
Now I believe that the medium of Painting is crucial to this process of rebelling against comfort, convenience and the fashionable digital app and accessory. Why? Because it demands discipline, character and material self-sacrifice that does not exist within the over-production of Conceptual Art world. Indeed we must learn to trade on our ability to reach-out for visual languages that are personalized and individualized without a moral construction defining or undermining image originality, but which are enabling and inclusive society wide. Welcome to the democracy of the colour spectrum in all its rampaging positivity no longer sandwiched between competing moralities and ideologies. Dissolving meaning is over and fixations on the 'abstract order of Paint' are no longer excluding the vast majority of the 'uneducated' that are now the new 'Blue collar ambitious consumers to the Art experience'. What's this new demographic'? No longer just the 'working-classes' of social aggression and an unreconstructed division green with envy and a sense of entitlement, but a wider umbrella and a more diverse eclecticism that focus' on specific and selected issues rather than a blind loyalty to the binary political agenda. Factions and rival Art gangs of the 19th to 20th centuries misled and induced Art academia to write-off rather than recognize the now 160 years of the school of 'modernism' that might have so revelled in its influence for today's practitioners. Indeed there was an exaggeration of 'modernism's need for negativity or angry protest , satire and foolhardy self-righteous politicization, dividing and not uniting societies. Indeed, today's modernism has no appetite for moralities and bear-pit confrontations because it chooses to enlighten, share, fuse and include, where it is not re-inventing, duplicating or derivative but self-transformative. It offers individual sanctuary not society revolution en-masse. Clearer and more personal moral, philosophical and overtly political Cold -War rhetoric of antagonistic hostility to and from 'nationalistic' Marxist theories of history are over and finished, whereas today we celebrate compatibilities and our cultural relevance to the global society made more flexible by a plethora of variations of market liberal capitalism. Indeed, I believe that the Painted image holds all the potential to unite by difference and its individualization of cultural possibilities of a unique drama of extending diversity opening up the Art world to cultural responsibilities that democratize the visual perspective. Free from hitherto dictat and overbearing political correctness our new morality is the wide colour spectrum in the new democracy of Art. Its 'popular curriculum'is both enlightened heterogenaiety yet also the self-contained pluralism that bond a unique 'glue of Paint' reflecting a unique medium emboldened by a self-confidant democratic explosion of colour possibilities immersed as regenerative rather than the permissively relativistic. Universal 'Paint' has bonded people together but no longer like artistic cattle but as free to roam and self-discover.
But here lies the rub : whilst Painting could become a visual generator of free and original image-making there are some collectors in the market who will not be encouraged by such an evolution in Art and the Art market. Some collectors invest not so much for the object itself but in the context in which it was bought. Voyeuristically, some collectors enjoy being the agent of destruction in the breaking of the heart of the Artist when he or she has to conform to commercial inevitability. To reel-in a nonconformist and 'rebel against the grainers' isn't just a glitsch or freak event, it is a need to preserve self-justification for ones business modus operendi and a punishment meted-out on those who think they can operate outside the norms and responsibilities. But how grateful must such an Artist be when he/she can wear his/her badge of honour, his/her 'war wounds' in public !! Sometimes it is better to 'lose without dignity' but be compensated with ones personal self-respect in tact than it is to go out with a blaze of high profile glory !!
Sometimes, however,the posthumous sale of work of a dead Artist means he/she can't defend him/herself. In this act of corruption we should note as other Artists that meddling with biographical details will always be subjective when so much of a 20th century was spent in bellicose military scientific 'progress' that far outstripped our human social needs and capabilities to adapt. Such hideous consequences of inhumanity put intolerable strain on Art and Painting had to largely bare the weight. Indeed, it is often forgotten that Painters had to confront and expose human social and military deformity without any substantial financial support. So no wonder the medium of Painting has today emerged as a healer of division and its 'old ambivalence'(the commercial world) rejoices in the opportunity to focus our contemporary world, now 'modern-friendly' (in popular parlance) deriving its true image-making influences in 'Modernism'.
We have absorbed, familiarized and assimilated 20th century modernist imagery that have gone viral into mainstream Adverts, TV games and the whole plethora of the digital world a century or so later. We have been collaborators and consumers to subliminal and more direct forms of 19th and 20th century modernism and are now quite at ease with the permeation of such imagery without having to join a political agenda. But the game-changer is that we have not only up-graded modernism but understood that modernism today is just a further variation of a school of Painting Art that stretches 160 years. But it is this public perception of this 'modern Art' that has diversified Painting whilst publicly reviling Conceptual Art that has captivated the real public response. 'Modern Art and 'Modern Painting' are public terminological reclamations of Art for us all and not for dubious ideological agendas. Art history has not been egalitarianized for some social class conflict but enabled to engage shapes and stories, peoples and places, experiences had and ambitions to have and proverbially nothing more.
The medium of Painting has never had so many practitioners who have little of no Art education. We have never had such snobbery from the new demographic of the Art elite top table who renounce their credentials by contempt for the immense rise in Painting practitioners who , because they are largely self-taught pose a threat to and de-regulate the conformism of Art factories like the 'Art College system'. However, this new paradigm of pragmatic democratic popular original visual image-making via Paint isn't just self-aware because it knocks Ivory Towers and masonic privilege. Indeed, it has a social impact that does not register public self-congratulation of mural politics of the 1930s, or the derivative Conceptual Art of today made into a pastiche of 'The Freeze' show. It advocates a demanding pragmatism as the conscience of contemporary culture and the inheritor of potential creativity that makes it a 'contributor' and not a 'taker'. It is neither a retro splash nor nostalgic on the lash, but the state of health and litmus test of creativity and originality of the 21st century. It is free of any detrimental digital or social convenient application and idiosyncratically rewards the individual with his/her unique brush stroke from eye to hand to brush to Paint to canvas, the true finger-print of evolution. Now to relate this to Museums of Art will have to be another blog. Spoiler alert : How have crusty old Art Institutions become cultural sanctuaries of Fine Art rather than morgues for artistically dead people? And when does the public purse become 'now let them pay taxes' on objects they're don't recognize? Institutions of Art has a duty to be financially transparent and profit-making, forward looking enough yet reliable not to out-bid sister Museums or to pass the parcel or not rob Peter to pay Paul. They should refresh their collections with rooms to be at the disposal of contemporary Paintings and immediate and flexible Studio space for regional exhibitions to be put next to the 'prestigious stuff!' Why? Because the public need to see that Paint although physically dry it is still alive with hot, dark, light, cold pouring ice and fire into the colour veins of Paint webbed hands gripping the canvas. Paintings were never meant to be 'the grout of Art' between expensive tiles!! You can keep your 'shuffling furniture' of Conceptual Art and your digitalized fake-tech and pretend that it's changing 'tectonic plates' in your gentrified part of East London!!! So why the aggro? Why aggravate institutions ? Well, why do we engage with Art ? Firstly to avoid respectable derivative clones of Artistry, secondly to make sure that our most important objective that is our human mission is to explain and explore the human condition as Shakespeare, Beethoven, Wagner, Picasso, Lucien Freud etc did before us, and thirdly, to tackle the reputedly 'impossibly impenetrable fortress of 'form' ' in the limited space of a finite canvas. Don't tell me that this is a tired and negative subject matter for a graduate of the 21st century when Drawing and Painting isn't even in virtually every Art College in the UK. Where is the choice where is the inclusiveness there? Don't patronize and then advise us to change to a more fashionable medium to get a better grade!! Perhaps these are the very clinic's of 'virtual reality Art Colleges' that are fearful of losing their state funding or commercial sponsorship if they go public or come out of the Art closet and not exclude the medium of Painting from their curriculum? Putting on the brakes by enforcing Conceptual or digital Art or new materials or advances in technology as the only Art experience valued by the Art community is bullshit !! Let me be quite clear, if avant-garde by Art College tech is your specialist select thing only, then why don't you prove your selection choices by only have Painting and Drawing on your curriculum for a decade ? Don't tell me, 'a whole generation of Art students would miss-out!' No shit Einstein !!