About'PAINTING OVER - Anxiety/Acceptance/Transcendence'
(or 'What to Do?', 'What to Wear?' and 'What on Earth?')
DAVID BEN WHITE, OLIVER BANCROFT, SARAH McNULTY, ANDY JACKSON, ANDY PUTLAND
JAMES RYAN, ROBERT RUSH, DEBORAH GOUGH, WILLIAM STEIN, PAUL SAVAGE
MARCUS COPE, GILL ORD, ALEXANDER BUHLER, DAVID SMALL, KATE LYDDON, DAVID MICHEAUD
a preview of a proposed three-part painting show that is a very partial snapshot of very contemporary painting from London-based artists.
LOOK! (Painting for a Reason) (thanks to Johnny Bristol/the Osmonds, no thanks to Boyzone)
In 1967 Greenberg was already talking about the periodic death of painting - now it seems to have become paradigmatic; not to say parodic.
It is easy to string out the prepositions: what's painting up to? What's it for? What, to get serious about it, is there in it? Because maybe the last comprehensive formulation about the point of art came when Gautier decided art could exist for its own sake, l'art pour l'art (another preposition). And that was nearly 200 years ago. But at the point that line was taken, art floated free. It's survived, as Auden put it, 'in the valley of its saying' (it's the line after his famous statement that poetry makes nothing happen.)
A very long time ago we lost the habit of wanting to ask any of those awkward questions. The history of art is viewed as a continuum, as if a canvas by Ellsworth Kelly and one by Titian and a fresco by Giotto were somehow replacements for each other. We hardly remember that splitting from any social purpose art has pursued its own course, maintaining an autonomy only briefly disturbed by a detour into the service of revolution (it didn't help enough); until, of course, it was co-opted by commerce. Art's a commodity, then. Anything else?
Another famous quote: 'I have nothing to say, and I am saying it', said Cage. Slightly less famously he went on 'And that is poetry as I know it.'
We're told we must be anxious about painting, yet practitioners persist.
We have isolated a small patch of contemporary painting, the one we're most familiar with and that means most to us. There's abstract, abstraction, and figuration. An opportunity at least to start thinking again; a convenient and self-consciously arbitrary lens through which to observe any crisis in contemporary painting.