Saturday, November 10, 2007

Phainting Poenix

The constant re-emergence of painting as a viable practice in contemporary art, that is, the phoenix-like death and re-birth every two years or so, forces a renewed but consistently narrow assessment of painting's value relative to whatever fresh practices provided the contrast to make its re-birth remarkable.
More often than not it seems what is chosen as the representative work of a painting resurgence is that which is a relief from forms with shorter histories that have become too laboured conceptually, too ephemeral, or rely too heavily on dick and shit jokes. Painting can be the emancipated heroic formal relief, the permanent and hopeful stalwart release, or the hard-working under-appreciated and intelligent relief.
I’ve been thinking about this phoenix cycle since reading a proposal for an upcoming exhibition, written by the curator, Jacqueline Mabey. She discusses the current resurgence of interest in painting, and tracks the disinterest back to the 60s or 70s with the rise of more conceptual mediums.
I think I have lived through at least two resurgences in the years since starting art school. The first was triumphant, the second frustrating. I hope the third will be funny.
Maybe painting is the garage rock of the art world. Garage rock never stops, sometimes a band or two will have a little trip into the hearts and CD players of millions, their faces on the cover of magazines that proclaim Rock, recently deceased, is actually alive and well in a third-tier American or British city.
If painters didn’t work all the time, and garage rock bands didn’t keep rocking all the time, there wouldn’t be anything to find when the web-art and the acid-folk gets a little dusty.
While the cycle never really gets at what painting does, or has time to address the slightly different relief painting provides. In making such a narrow criteria in such a limited time-frame, painting is not allowed enough dick jokes, or shit jokes, or to labor its own concepts. Maybe its because painting's required time is so long, and its autographic qualities so undeniable that it suggests refinement and elegance. Just on the cusp of anything revelatory about why we keep on coming back each time and what is different about this time and the last, some faster medium karate-chops painting back to the grave.

I have a desire to refine my own practice that does not reside in soliciting this cycle's start or end, or in a reaction to the cycle itself.
I wonder what black motives live in the absence of my usual ones.

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