Comments on: Gestural Painting 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: anthony seymour Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:01:29 +0000 Still inspired by all this:

It seems to raise the ghost of the idea of the Culture Hero and in other words this is not the parsimony & artistic success of a Marcel Duchamp able to abandon it all and play chess…..

However, what is troubling me is whether it is really necessary for the artist to be at all accountable and how unattractive or stifling it could be to expect artists to be responsible as it were!

I wonder about Gary Cooper in that old film I recall from my childhood as Ayn Rand’s “The Architect” taking up the cudgels versus the collective philistines and altruistic yet sinister critics?

Recently I read Rand’s actual tome and despite her political agenda, as a tale of a creator against the collective, it is inspiring!

In any event, its good that Picasso did actually always lead (even through the very late work) and looking forward to the completion of John Richardson’s epic biography.

It is also good to read T.J.Clark’s excellent philosophical discussion about the Blue Period through to Guernica in his new study, “Picasso & Truth”.

On another note in terms of contemporary living artists, it seems to be people like Yoko Ono or Ai Wei Wei who would have most to give going beyond gestural painting…..

By: anthony seymour Fri, 08 Aug 2014 11:19:29 +0000 Strange writing – my instincts are to jump on-side but its sort of fey at the same time…..

Then there is the comedy of imagining name-dropping Pollock and talking about “feeling” or “authenticity” with fashionable & opportunistic people rather “getting-on” and “doing-well” with illustrational-cartoon-photographical painting at “art fairs” or new trustafarian-type “art galleries” run by vacant types with no interest in art who would think you are just “sad” to put it politely!

What you say may be unsophisticated but full power to your palpable honesty and generous communication, which so many pro.s now would be incapable of comprehending or empathising, because its often very scary for them, but its easier to be smug especially if those the right side of the tracks already have all the money, which is all that actually matters.

By: anthony seymour Fri, 08 Aug 2014 10:52:04 +0000 Excellent and disturbing, because its compelling and pertinent but the truth is hardly anyone getting on or part of it out there would actually understand or feel at all or whatsoever anything written here as none of this is anything at all that could possibly interest them in art or the scary bland future or so they are maybe vacantly over-confident or smug about!

I mean if you say you think Pollock is a serious figure – most folks out there doing well and getting on in the galleries and fairs would think you are “sad” but frankly bigger fools them…..

By: janet moody Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:43:40 +0000 Am entering discussion rather late and as a new subscriber…….
back to ‘authenticity’ I took this as referring to the ‘gesture’ not necessarily the work of art and as such I related it very much to the concept of Tao in Chinese painting.

By: George Hofmann Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:38:55 +0000 To John Sevcik: Thank you…..

By: John Sevcik Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:58:42 +0000 Deep feeling, the profound effect of great art on us, has always been present in the world, no matter the style or branch of art. Not every example of art reached that level, of course. Some are relegated to the categories of poorly made art, bad art, and decorative art. Of these, decorative art has suffered most from the high esteem we give profound art, and it was people like Vuillard and Bonnard who resurrected the beautiful into something also profound. The matters of human life accept that happiness is indeed as complex and needed as unhappiness, grief, suffering. And the story of human thought — the enlightenment and how it interacted with faith to actually work our way out of those crazy sectarian wars of the age of faith; these are also the matters of art. Perhaps we are too interested today in measuring everything by the standard of “I alone feel.”
I find it interesting that when my students tell me what they are doing, with complete sincerity, it often doesn’t accord with what they are showing me in their paintings. But the wrestling between modes of mind are also interesting and probably an important part of the process of an artist’s development. I always recommend Sperry’s Nobel Prize acceptance essay about the brain for its clue to what emotion actually is.
A few years ago I used to ask students if emotion is thought. It ends up that it probably is a communication of thought conclusions that must break through to other perceptual modes in the brain other than the one in which the emotion was formed — sort of a siren, or aria. Although we want powerfully true things in our art — the things we actually care the most about in life — those emotions themselves are probably created, as George Hoffman seems to intuit, by the experience of powerful things in life. But all those disturbing or emotionally jarring events begin as perception, thought, reflection, very immediately even emotion. But the brew of our time is the thing to drink, whatever it wants of us.
One last thing, to resolve some of the tension still felt between the gesturalist and the realist — Pollock had subject matter, themes, great working titles. Often the drawing of something he was calling up lies under the eventual gestural and emotional painting. This wrestling, which George is doing sort of in public in his essay, is part of the path to force visual issues into the auditory part of the mind. As such, this crossing between modes of thought approximates the paths we wish emotion to jump with its conclusive and sudden impact. The terms of George’s debate seem to brook no compromise. Absolute and vague undefinable terms are brought forward to make an asault on the unknown depths. All to the good, but don’t count anything out, either in the history of art, or the artists working today. No one way of working is guaranteed to produce the results we are all drawn to. But commitment like George’s is probably a key to the endeavor.

By: George Hofmann Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:06:12 +0000 Your observation that great art needs “both deeply felt emotion and penetrating intellect” hits the nail on the head. How agonizingly difficult to achieve tho! At least for the lesser endowed amongst us.
Still, I wonder if the feeling doesn’t trump the intellect. Is “Las Meninas” more thrilling because of the extraordinary geometry of the positioning of the figures, mirrors, doorway, the idea of devoting two thirds of the canvas to Air, or the breathtaking wish to do this?
I think it is the wish…..
The marvel, of course, in this painting is that in Velasquez the wish and the idea seem to be one….

By: John Pollard Thu, 17 Jul 2014 08:54:33 +0000 John,
I admire your search for the political/ethical in art, specifically abstraction, and I admire your continued visual ambition for your work.
The problem is how the two issues/goals are connected?
The best that I can come up with, at the moment, for the ethical/political nature of abstraction is that it encapsulates a way of being human which, in its process, embodies our freedom, responsibility, and meaning making nature.
Some of this relates to my interest in existential philosophy. But existentialism has always had its own struggles with the political and ethical, some arguing that there is no existential ethic. Well, I think there is, but the link with a visual art is not a simple causal one. The struggle to be ambitious in our art, and if its visual art it surely has to be visual ambition, can embody an ethics of questioning, of commitment, freedom in creativity, authenticity in relation to a fluid self with all its “conflicted subjectivities” etc. Authenticity repeatedly calls us back to ourselves from a kind of lostness in the everyday. And artists can get lost in all kinds of ways: our historical canon, influential artists, politics, critics, etc.
Yet to call the work of art itself “authentic” makes no sense, as it’s an object. It seems to have an important life of its own. Although, granted, it needs a subjectivity to recognise its objectivity.
The art world will necessarily have its political and ethical struggles, but what do these struggles have to do with visual quality? And if they are not about the visual how do they relate to the art? This doesn’t mean they are not without interest but what if you create a radical political art, with a profound message, that ‘looks’ very poor? That wouldn’t be very progressive? Or, if it is progressive, in what way is it about the art?
“What are the new relationships between self and societies? How have our conflicted subjectivities evolved? How does abstraction evolve to express them, mediate them, navigate them now?”
All good questions John but I’m not sure where they will take you in terms of the development of your visual art. But perhaps they are mainly separate journeys that nevertheless have some dynamic intersections along the way. It sounds as though, for you and your practice, they are probably worth pursuing.

By: Robin Greenwood Wed, 16 Jul 2014 21:24:19 +0000 John B,
Very interesting. But I’m not sure what to do with “interesting”. Yes, you could argue that “there is a blistering visceral rigour and intensity to Riley’s art”, but would you? Would YOU? If you think that’s true, why not argue it? I don’t think you would get that far. Nor do I think it is true to say that “Scully is able to explore infinite variations in scale, size and colour” when in fact it may be more pertinent to point out his very lack of variation. You can’t have it every which way, John. Are you arguing these points, or not? I kind of agree that it doesn’t do to take sides on, say, geometry versus gesture. You seem to be saying they are both valid, I seem to be saying they are neither sufficient in themselves (and the best of your own work has both!). Great art seems to me to need both deeply felt emotion and penetrating intellect; anything less on either side and it is unbalanced and lacks “humanity” in its fullest sense.

So we might agree not to take sides, but not agree that anything and everything, in all its disconnected post-modern singular aspects, is of value. I’m not sure what my “conflicted subjectivities” are, if I have them, or whether I share them with you or anyone else, or how they are evolving. If I’ve got them, I’m not sure I want my art to express, mediate or navigate them. It has other things on its mind. But what you say is interesting…

By: George Hofmann Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:12:57 +0000 Bravo!