Comments on: Lines, stripes, and squares Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 By: Hana Horack Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:13:23 +0000 You can have a look…

By: little tinter Sun, 15 Jan 2012 20:10:45 +0000 I know, I know. Heavy, man. But what’s your art like?

By: C. Morey de Morand Fri, 13 Jan 2012 02:04:49 +0000 C. Morey de Morand
Having seen all 3 shows and being interested in general, I enjoyed Alison Hands straight talking article linking the works, and the after-comments by John Holland and Sam Cornish very much. I especially relished Alison’s to the point referencing Gabo and John’s noting the ‘branding’ exercises. So true. Hirst’s spots and Buren’s commercial stripes would be interchangeable of course but they have to keep to their own trademarks. Actually the photograph of Buren’s A Perimeter for a Room is much more interesting than being inside the work itself, but technically the woven fibre optics are impressive, pointless but impressive nevertheless. In my opinion Morellet is the most exquisitely intellectual although perhaps the least enjoyable to look at of the three. Robert Currie’s nylon threaded boxes may yet come to be another such branding exercise although highly full of excitement and search at the moment.

These are/were three remarkable, distinguished exhibitions like gifts to the spectator and are a credit to the galleries putting them on.

Marshall McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” in all three exhibitions is key I think to the lack of humanity, coldness, unsustainability of retaining interest found by Alison and Sam. It is part of what makes them interesting as well. Making light and movement out of manufactured insentient materials, also imparts prestige and profundity to the technical know-how.

Using paint with an equal ambition and on canvas would not be so impressively futuristic but oh how eloquent. Malevich’s little rectangle called Black Square as a painted ‘if ‘anyone?

By: Hana Horack Wed, 11 Jan 2012 20:11:54 +0000 Since I have nothing to lose, or gain, by commenting here I must frankly admit that art which only concerns itself with the fluff in the navel of its host, has an absolute need for said host, a symbiotic relationship exists. And then there are the satellites which would crash into each other if they weren’t kept in orbit by the correct level of concurrence, within debate, necessary to maintain their co-existence. Who wants to bite the hand that feeds them? Is there something wrong with being fed? There we enter the waters of morality. Or are we just jealous that it isn’t us? More morality…

However, what if one does not follow the direction in which most analysis is focussed? I think that most would agree that our interpretation is a reflection of our own assumptions – no matter how well informed or well read. It is all a matter of belief – it is inescapable, everyone believes in something, even saying, “I don’t believe in anything!” is your belief. Drive-thrus and post-structuralism, anthropology and capitalism – where do they lead us?

I imagine that Donald Judd would have disapproved of me – because I can quite happily see the spirituality of the Creation reflected in his work – which he himself denied (please, correct me if I’m wrong). And the first time I saw Buren’s work was as a jpg on the axisweb site – when it seemed, until I read about it, to be a luminous painting of transcendental qualities! It certainly is a shame to see it reduced to fluff in the navel of a complex critique.

A return to humanism – humanism is missing throughout our culture as a whole. How important are we? Are we worth more than bullets fired at random into a crowd? Of course we are! Each individual is worth more than a planet-sized diamond! But no matter how high we climb we are all going to fall – is that a plinth I see before me, or a headstone?

We are creatures of our Universe; we hear that there are billions of tons of water floating around out there and wonder, “Is there life out there?” And imagine that we could test for it somehow – the assumption being that it is somehow ‘alike’, and of course there is no reason for it to be ‘alike’: it could just as well be so different that we wouldn’t recognise it, just as the blind men didn’t recognise the elephant. And there is so much that we don’t recognise already!

Please note – that this is not meant to offend anyone, it is just my take on the discussion so far, embedded in my experience of the world in general. Peace and Love!

By: john holland Tue, 10 Jan 2012 11:26:32 +0000 By the way, I assume Gillick is talking to his lawyer as we speak about Buren’s Perimeter for a Room.

By: john holland Tue, 10 Jan 2012 11:24:51 +0000 Hello Sam,

It’s nice to have such speedy feedback on this site.

I think the reason shows such as Buren’s at the Lisson depress me is that, while they make cliams to be critiqueing the cultural institutions they inhabit, they rely more than most art on just those institutional tropes they “interrogate” for their authority.

No-one who was not already au fait with the current art world “discourses”, ie an art-world insider, could possibly come to the readings that Alison talks about on the evidence of the work alone.
Furthermore, such work relies wholly on its placing within the luxury minimalism of the blue-chip contempory gallery aesthetic to be conceived of as art at all.

This more or less ubiquitous aesthetic is certainly worth a bit of critical deconstruction, loaded as it is with implicit meanings. And they are often, as Alison suggests, more interesting than the art they show. I always enjoy going to the Saatchi, irrespective of the show, because its achingly expensive corporate minimalism is a pleasure to experience.
The geneology of this almost ubiquitous, but very particular look is interesting, in terms of the way minimalism bequeathed its air of rarified, tasteful institutional authority to the aesthetically needy conceptualism that challenged it.
The fact that critically-engaged conceptualism of the Buren/Gillick type bravely subverts these institutions whilst relying on their authority for their percieved seriousness is either interesting or laughable, depending on your point of view.

By: Sam Cornish Tue, 10 Jan 2012 10:47:11 +0000 And less flippantly, despite having a lot of time for the aesthetics of well-installed minimalism, I agree with Alison that it clearly does lack some humanity, as well as, and perhaps this is more of a problem for me, the ability to sustain visual interest, beyond the refreshing of its first impact.

By: Sam Cornish Tue, 10 Jan 2012 10:20:17 +0000 I suspect that Hirst would be more likely to go for the drive-thru idea as well

By: Sam Cornish Tue, 10 Jan 2012 10:19:14 +0000 Hi Alison, John

I think I remember reading somewhere that the early association of mimimalist aesthetics with a bouncing back onto the environment did in fact stem from critics have such little art to talk about that they were forced to begin describing the gallery that surrounded it. I agree with John that this doesn’t seem to have a lot of legs as an idea for actually involving, purposeful and specific art.

I’ve always felt (obviously not originally) that rather than effecting some kind of remove of the author which then serves to divert attention from the work to the gallery space / system, Buren’s work is more than anything branding exercise, which has being sustained by its origins in critique.

The combination of branding with the an ambiguous complicit-critique that Alison uses to explain Buren’s work brings to mind Hirst more than anyone else. Though Buren is a more elegant visual artist than Hirst (and this is where I see his value lying), Hirst’s upcoming extravaganza does have the advantage (if we bring ourselves to call it that) of really pushing complicity-critique to its limits.

By: john holland Tue, 10 Jan 2012 08:18:08 +0000 Maybe I’ve misunderstood, but your explication of Buren’s strategy seems to be, essentially, that he makes images so deliberately dull and repetitious that the viewer is left with no option but to seek some kind of visual stimulation by staring at the Lisson Gallery itself.
As a result of this desperation, the art-lover will find himself pondering complex critiques of institutional and cultural power structures that had never previously occured to him.

This begs a few questions;

Will the complex critiques be affected if, say, zig-zags or squares are used, instead of stripes? Would circles invoke a different critique, or would it just take a bit longer?

Can the viewer have these complex critical thoughts staring at an empty gallery, or are Buren’s “interrogations” (my favourite art-world buzz-word, with its titillating conflation of deconstruction and water-boarding) always necessary?

And lastly, can the complex critique take any form, or is there an official Buren critique for us to follow?
I am assuming, because I sometimes flick through Art Monthly, that the viewer’s thoughts should invoke the usual left-ish wing post-structuralist pieties about subverting institutional power structures, but maybe the viewer will decide that the Lisson needs a more rigourous Capitalist agenda, perhaps with a MacDonalds Drive-thru in the main gallery. I’m sure this is not the intended response, but it’s no less legitimated by the actual, specific form of the work than any other.