top of page

Proliferation of 20th century Painting

Stephen Hornsby-Smith
Stephen Hornsby-Smith

The over-exposure of 20th century Painting to the 'form' imperative has left an artistic crater the size of cultural apartheid thrown under the bus of the defective Soviet model of Socialist Realist Painting and log jammed by the over-production of Conceptual Art. Andy Warhol and his latest protege (Jeff Koons) have been misappropriated to level the Painting medium in a post-apocalyptic bleak self-hating toxic landscape, where recovery has been set-back by 'Art College politics and a international curriculum ' that is in denial of the force for popular good that rejects the damage done to Painting. We are no longer watching Paint dry but watching Art Colleges fail their remit as a purveyor of freedom of expression and open mic for all. I don't do doom to defeat because of the 'System' of conspiracies that are more fascinated by 'Departure Art' whilst claiming other media are 'supermarket music' or too old-school and not tech enough !. Launder your profits under the ever watchful eye of conformity, spiced with a cocktail of angry 'doomed to fail but reveal all by a tabloid page 3 of irony' brigade. This slop of finished before you're even started isn't anything but a hang-over from the proliferation of 'censorship over-reaction' from stunted Soviet Cold War Art desperate to drag its heels stigmatizing any other form of Art Media because the 'West was corrupt' shit. Let me remind you,the Cold War is over, Capitalism is new to so many parts of stunted ex-Warsaw pact nations that should be welcomed as doing what most Artist's do, which is to rattle the cultural deficit or solidify the burgeoning release of new voices who had been tortured and vandalized by 'grudge Sovietism', and let the West respond in kind.

How did the West defeat censorship? It's resentment of Socialist Realist had to be palpable and its own cultural radicalism helped the post Soviet East to liberate itself ! But the West did have to push far in doing so and endangered itself by post-structural post-modern cultural analysis - ennui, selfish materialistic consumerism, self-parody, excess over self indulgence, celebrating an obesity of self-regard, self-satisfied but fearless cynical moralizing or amoral political manipulation and technological deterrent and the reinvention of permissive liberalism all horrified the Soviet's, demoralized them and defeated them ! The Soviet's needed to despair at 'fast-food political swings and the odd political leader or system being subjected to the leering anarchist vilification by an unreconstructed media put in the hands of billionaires making the West broadcast its 'tabloid society' and raking-in huge profits that were garishly squandered on having undemocratic over-powerful political influence at its disposal. The Soviets had to believe that Capitalism was in crisis, but actually the West was thoroughly enjoying every twist and turn of its whimsical flight of fancy ! It was the biggest 'con trick' that was so far under the radar whilst being so blindingly obvious ! Relativism and ambivalence will always get yer ! But to the East the West was anti-culture, 'Sodom and Gomorrah' and not just Las Vegas, where fortunes and stars are made, where the exact opposite of totalitarianism rejoiced in its freedom. We should be ready to once again stimulate the cultural reunification of all Art media in mutual and not unilateral 'co-existence', and the public will have nothing to fear but everything to cheer as we galvanise ourselves to rock the boat of Art placation and docility.

But where is and where was the brazen sweep or the bragging rights against post Cold War opponents? Soviet discipline of political ideological rigidity lost to a frat party bash in an open-house no secrets society 'hooked-on cocaine and vice and other pleasure without any 'remorse'? Yet where is the victory dance? The West pulled-off a sensational military and psychological and cultural victory over the Soviet Union, where Soviets were in bread queues whilst the West was eating MacDonald burgers, and yet the easiest 'home -run' for the American led West was down-played ? The spoils of War would have been on every bulletin of Soviet TV for eons if the Cold War had gone the other way - so why not go nuts on winning a momentous victory? Because we in the West are better than crowing at those it has defeated ! Instead the West re-prioritized to enable Western money and foreign currency to stabilize a vast continent of a failing Soviet economy without humiliating those entrusted to build the Russian Federation from an over-subsidized centralized economy to one that could compete on any level. The West did a good thing here ! But what of the 'decadence of the West'? It was believable because it was ready to be a flexible network of opportunities and freedoms and the diversity to reinforce and be ready to volunteer short term decadence and some levels of corruption whilst tacitly reinventing how to insulate the bed-rock of Western values; any migrant based society in a superpower like the USA that is built on celebrating migration and its history of fighting against European imperialism, was able to weather self-inflicted controversy and social and ethnic division and thrive despite overseas suspicions. The Soviet's never stood a chance, but hung-on to its nuclear deterrent as its only means of making Sovietism a threat. In the final analysis perhaps it didn't even have a sustainable valid nuclear threat to compete with Western technology. Ouch ! But I suspect we will see a re-emergence of Painting as a means of communication and correspondence with our shared experience of the mutual fear of nuclear button as ideological fallout recedes and open cultural competition thrives. Perhaps the medium of Painting is our shared future and a re-connection to the 160 years of the 'Modernist Renaissance' seems ready to fulfill its destiny and pathway through the generations of East/West cultural conflict to the landscapes of the future. Or not/ You decide.


bottom of page