Modernist Paintings are best explained by the music of Janacek, Walker, Stravinsky and Britton. These composers upgraded the figurative beauty inherent in most melodious compositions before to an emboldening refinement of a new perspective on the figurative not by collision per se but to stretch the imaginative to explore how the era of industrialization, urbanization and the Dickensian transformations that elevated and traumatized a new century. Ambivalence and contrast were the zeitgeist of imperial and colonial contradiction, which introduced Art and wider culture to the open possibility of heresy and sacrilege and yet held the hope of the future in its Artist Painters' hands.
But the Modern world seemed in danger and constant peril and the Cold War deepened and many hoped that with more positive Artwork (in post-war 1940's America) especially of the American brand would redeem the world from the terrors of the era expressed in largely European modernism. The new aspiration society didn't just want to count on shelf-life consumer power to ditch Modernist Art by 'consumer-led rejection of a perceived 'over-moralizing 'modernist compass, it wanted to impose its will and try and test its strength beyond cultural agenda's. Indeed, the public perception of Modernist Painting was not a favourable one but that overlooked the ancestry and living lineage from Kandinsky to Pollock, Lucien Freud to Bacon to the 21st century and the global reach beyond 20th century Euro-centric modernism.
People underestimate the agony and pain from the ripping-up of the rules needed to create Modernism; they were as monumental and toxic as the 'Dark Ages' of Stalinism was to the Soviet Union. The move from natural beauty to non-melodious discordancy often towards the Atonal actually became the hero of a new beauty of subtlety, nuance and yet also orchestral clashes and emotional exploration and diversity in which instruments acquired different personalities away from the often-limited range of compositional expectations. New possibilities of tone and light and shadow, movement and acceleration, distance, and a new world of popular representation at every cultural hub; it was truly a transformative musical experience of such range whose influence wasn't just a multilateral influence across all mediums of Culture, but ironically it also got its legitimacy by Adolf Hitler's hatred of it! On so many levels Painting was and is part of such a heroic movement of 'Modernism' that offers a refuge and a resistance to arbitrary power wherever you find it!
Like the Universe of gravity, light planets and moons, Modernist Painting has been re-invoked to paint telescopic images of galaxies far away from our present capacity to truly comprehend them - natural abstraction can seem figurative and not abstract at all. A Universe where our human comprehension of the Universe can only be grasped by spatial exploration and human modernism for the 21st century? Perhaps Painting also is a swerve like light through gravity, but the truth is that Galaxies far, far away.... can only be understood by our imaginations after all, and that are strikingly similar to Modernism's pictorial representation of the abstract!!?
Push/pull friction, displacement power force, death and birth are how we understand our solar system, but these are often incorporated in Modernist Painting beyond our 'figurative stasis'. Impressionists and post-impressionists interpret light, Futurists are absorbed by speed and movement whilst the Surrealists are obsessed with the unconscious mind have rejected those clamouring for naturalism in Paintings whilst global wars raged, and cultural life was only saved by the bravery of Modernist Painters who stuck to their guns by sticking to their brush strokes and modernist values! Perhaps the widely over-appreciated Conceptual Art of today is a palliative to nurse us away from modernist confrontation and not a reaction to Art over dependence on traditional Painting and Sculpture.? If that is the case, then Conceptual Art could be the next victim of the Art top table's guillotine; Art by guillotine is not how Art should be 'governed.' Indeed, should Art be governed by an absence of popular participation by an anonymous bunch of patrons? Who and what is their remit? Why do I suspect that the Art establishment aren't the political establishment in this country, but part of the aspirational academic consumer of self-intellectualism with its own narrative and its own diverse demographics but exercise power in unison in a closed shop for the elite only!?
20th century Modernist Painting captured the 'carbon of industrialisation’ and the industrialization of military power to dictate and supply all economies to serve two punishing global wars; Modernist Painting, although divisive, still financed the cultural weaponry being exercised to destroy the modernist hater and his hangers-on. But Modernist 21st century differs because firstly because it isn't Euro-Caucasian centric and secondly because in parts of the developing world which doesn't have full-on industrialisation, it straddles a lack of urban and industrial side-effects and social hardships with a non-industrialized environment that has the capacity to pioneer new greener activities and technologies that are carbon neutral and represent life altering anti-climate change as leaders of a mid-21st century mind and climate transformation. I believe that is modernism for the 21st century, without the Art race for 'isms and ites’! Moreover, modernism in the 21st century is not a colonising one! Modernism rejects colonialism of the 19th and 20th centuries version., and even at worst is only a cultural magnet and not an impositional military presence invading to establish colonies, and likewise, 21st century modernist Painting doesn't avoid but addresses but without hijacking someone else's cultural practices.
Art shouldn't be a unilateral miscommunication and imposition, but it definitely can never be part of a cultural imperialist annexation; but it should be the multiverse of all possibilities. Modernist composers and Artists were right to back a transference of emphasis by rerouting melody by cherishing it more and by being more discriminating and selective in its use. Modernism wasn't the abandonment of lyricism and beauty, and it wasn't a hideous deformed sharpened blade that indiscriminately waged war on universal values! It just enhanced the aesthetic value of beauty and communicated a connector to a landscape or portrait of freedom without centralised control - it was the alternative to Communism in post Bolshevik Revolutionary Europe and the alternative to 1930's Fascism! But more recently it has become a victim of short-termism by over-dependency on 'form' centrism, and Euro Caucasianism.
But Modernist Painting did and will bridge the gap between Art 'Greater good' and the social contract of the 'General will' by Art leadership and responsibility by a diverse narrative of a dalliance with the abstract, the partial figurative and the naive. But is Modernism just a reaction to 20th century authoritarianism? No! The pain, angst and suffering of global wars, (first and second) tried to devour civilization but failed. It needs to be constantly tested, today, tomorrow and informed by 'yesterdays’; it is our inheritance and our responsibility! Building a stronger Art world without Modernist Painting for the 21st century would strangle, distract, detract, and make derelict global Painterly responses to our world. Imagine if the colour blue was outlawed from the full spectrum of life?
Likewise, seasonal changes are overexposed these days to extremes of climate change are similar to flip-flopping over, the role of Painting in Culture without modernist 21st century potential. We modernist Painters have Siberian winters baking hot Australian summers whilst the polar ice caps of representation are diminishing and melting away - until you'll need us to take on authoritarianism again! Or should we have to wait for the Art Top Table to align the astrological stars in perfect symmetry (or exactly the opposite) to sponsor the strike-out and 'break-free' from being controlled or micromanaged. We are not just the defenders or the aggressors, we are the advocates of change, reform, evolution, and self and mutual transformation. Our detractors are from the same clique who had contempt for Cezanne and modernist Art in general.
There has always been the ivory towers and the arm chairers of academia that lavishly indulged in its non-social Marxist 'class struggle orthodoxy by replacing it with Feminism, issues of ethnicity, rights and freedoms that defend the LGBT community, issues of immigration and the discrimination of disabled people, etc, but they are the unacknowledged 'say no to Marxism' at all costs who have built a working relationship with the reactionaries, the conservatives with a small 'c'. How could rebellious confrontational freedom livers make peace with hard core defiant Luddites for the status quo?! It worked to bankrupt the Soviet Union, so if it works, don't fix it!? But that policy used and then excluded the modernist Painters, no? But that was only a temporary position? Or could Modernists Painters actually take this hiatus as a vacation before it reclaimed its place in the Cultural high table? So why not? Perhaps because Modernist Painting has a 180-year lineage but one without entitlement? And if Conceptual Art has replaced it isn't Conceptual Art itself going to be a victim of the same devaluation by the same High Table, because it is seen as firstly a 'replacement' for Modernist Painting and yet secondly is derivative and not original and not virgin territory because of its trailblazer works of Marcel Duchamp back in 1918.??!? The question to Art College undergraduates is: Do you really want to over commit to a vulnerable medium that also knifed the Painting medium and its modernist partners in the proverbial back? Is Conceptual Art on borrowed time already?
Art 'Form' is a bloodsucker that has sucked the life out of Art whose sole purpose was to break the spine of the Soviet belief system of Marxist Leninism. We may applaud its success, but it remains a left-over from the Cold War and is the sort of determinism that we can resist by Paint and modernism. Instead, we have entombed 'Art Form' in private vaults of global oligarchs who are nihilistically the anti-display of work that could inform us all - actually it's a bit like the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt relying on the next life restoring their powers.
Meanwhile, todays Painter is treated as a pariah who depicts controversial issues and in your face subjectivity unapologetically, or the Painter is a 'left-over’, old hat, childish, dowdy, country cousin and odd one out!!?? We are pathologically being accused of hate crimes and being the recipient of patronizing charity etc??? And does anyone know why we are devalued and objectified as Art money-pits!?? Or can we now update Cold War deconstruction with its successor.... Spin?! Spin is motivated by back-sliding and also predatorial??!! So, all the extremes are covered, and all the accusers are hidden too? Surely in order to undo spin it must be met by something stronger or the people who hold its keys....'Form’! Derail form and you liberate us from spin! But do you really want a tidal wave of modernist Painters openly questioning but without a context of Stalinism and Fascism hounding it? Hell yes! Say no to the relic of totalitarianism!
But also, Britain took the last step away from its colonial past by Brexit! How? I believe that the EU wallows in mutual post-Imperialism and consoles itself by clinging on to a distant but unsustainable industrialisation that dumped its goods on its colonies! Who put us in this position of post Imperialism but Thatcher who championed not just getting rid of her 'Grandees' but of imposing an individualism and ethos that wasn't going to rely on non-competitive short termism that unbalanced the books! She was a new (and many say brutal) no-nonsense belligerent, who drove out 'the comfortable' and imposed a new hierarchy of successful individualism! That legacy ensured that Labour, and it was inevitable that Labour would be in government at some stage in a 2-party system, had to ditch many of its age-old values and priorities! Thatcher’s unrecognized achievement was firstly, a new Labour generation who would not immediately jettison everything Thatcherism had achieved, and secondly, as New Labour, it would lose power because of its own ambivalence to New Labour philosophy and in absentia, would never be united as a party to be able to reinstate 'Old Labour '! But there is more, because Thatcherism so individualised the country that Brexit was possible with the help of white working-class votes who may have subconsciously identified with a New Labour thinking of being won over by argument and not by Old Labour demand for electoral conformity.
Likewise, Thatcherism demanded that all Britons make their lives entrepreneurial, and Boris' Cabinets did not discriminate but trailblaze all who were prepared to serve and work hard! Many believe that New Labour showed the Tories that any discrimination on gender, race ethnicity, on LGBT matters etc were not welcome and could actually not just offend but stop the Tories from governing and being leaders at home and abroad! Tories are smart too! Demographics that are sensitive to a swing to the Tories often displace political ideological convictions, and Johnsons 'levelling-up' is pure 'Red Tory' from a Cameron era- it seems that the friction between two Old Etonians and rival politicians was not lost on Johnson as he 'borrowed Cameron’s 'Red Tory' themes to form 'Boris' Northern manifesto for himself. But at least this indicates that Johnson didn't steel or need to steel policies from Labour!
But recent Priministerial history is vital to understand how their Painted Portraits cornered the preserve of how we interpret our distinguished era from Thatcher onwards. This has been the guarantor of status of the medium of Painting. Why? It is because you can subjectively 'read' the connectors, mannerisms and reputations that defy the paradoxically 'measured over the top Art' that is so 'air-brushed by Saatchi cornering the YBA bulldozer market. Really? Itis different because it is unique a collection of portraits that compete to being barely free and in control of the outcome or sublimating the aggression and iconoclastic brutal force that's required to be Prime Minister, whereas YBA aggression is too obvious! How did our Portrait Painters become so powerful? It's because modernism is its teacher! Read polite bland portraits and value them at what you don't see and what is omitted -or just call it reverse psychology! Yet we know how much impact Modernist Painting has had by how Churchill had destroyed his Portrait by Sutherland, because it was too revealing!!
Even the complications and paradoxes of our contemporary world can be best explained by how perceptive modernist Painting could be today! Complication surely is our domain, our metier..... you don't need clunking tech or 'Art scaffolding' to dissipate meaning when you can intensify the experience by Paint? Modernist Painting today is the metaphor for resistance and is incompatible with 'Art History spin' but compatible with adaptation! Adaptation being the anvil of evolving one’s observations and resisting dictat, we could not have beaten the Cold War without modernist adaptability. Perhaps in times of crisis or national trauma, such as the end of the Elizabethan era and the passing of our Queen, benevolent UK leader, servant of her faith, role model and our gifted champion, we should recall that her 70 year reign began as the closing chapter of European Modernism that was becoming less persuasive by becoming more esoteric, we can take a leaf out her majesty's book, by being open-minded in a way that the early 1950's European Modernism was not !
But under her reign the Cold War was won! Marxist Leninist Maoist China (that was anti monarchical, anti-Western, anti-Capitalist) dropped its antipathy towards the West and the free market and was persuaded to do so by the simultaneous abandonment of Keynesianism which no doubt China will have wanted to take credit for if just to mask their conversion to the global free market by creating the 2 systems programme! Now, the monetarists like Thatcher and Reagan couldn't believe their luck! They'd tried to ditch Keynesianism all their political lives and here it was, delivered and offered up to provide a start in Capitalism for the Eastern bloc and China without Keynesian economics??!! 'Why not kill 2 behemoths with one stone'? But heads were going to roll, and Thatcher was rewarded for her defiant position in breaking Sovietism by losing her job! But who benefitted?! Blairism!?! And a new entity was introduced in which New Labour found its own 'deregulation' departing from its old traditional alliances. @ Smaller taxes, bigger spend more revenue!!??. Compbell and Mandelson told Blair what to say, and Brown told him what to do! This new leadership brand had an original exit strategy: Make Blair take the blame, let him take hostility then work in the love as well as hate until he can deliver the Brexit voters of the North who may be ready to switch back to Labour if the Labour embrace Brexit at counterpoint to Blairs pro EU values! Blair is a reliable vote winner after all! Only then can work in separating Blair and Blairism be complete! Toxic Blair whilst Labour becomes 'independent’! Such is the nature of spin, unique accountancy and cynical Machiavellianism that only a nonfigurative non Portrait work of Modernist Painting of the 21st century could actually take on!