Sunday, March 23, 2008

Which New Painting?

To chase the new, to value the contemporary is as intentional as deciding to be an ancient Egyptian. Don’t put it past me, bouffant black hair, eyes ringed in black, holding a staff or a can of beer, maybe.
Historical movements, constructed in the workshop of art history, are encapsulated, started and finished without us. We are positioned after their occurrence. Our claims to contemporary practices are made by our proximity to their inception, how soon we knew them, how early we believed them. In historical movements, we are given the relief of a death never felt in person, in new work, the hope of a birth without a life we’re responsible to. Unless we really like the baby.
I’ve not really not been a fan of new painting. By the same token, I am not a fan. In fact, I’ve always loved new painting as much I needed to in order to paint, and show my work, and feel less alone. I've loved new painting to capacity while I wondered which "New Painting" the internal imaginary interviewer was asking about.
I understand most easily new painting when I can see it within miles of my home. I can imagine how the work got there after the last show on the same walls, and can ask questions that ground the work near my own. “Where is his studio?” “Where are they from? Here? Where I'm from?”
I have to figure out less about the how when I see new paintings nearby. Old men don’t travel to other cities to watch construction sites, the most interesting ones are found nearest to your house because you can remember last week when the street wasn’t a gaping pit and you crossed it where you liked as long as the cars weren’t trying to kill you.
Maybe old men would travel if they could. Maybe old men who watch construction sites have been broke so long that travel doesn't even enter the equation. Maybe they keep their minds of travel down at the construction site, watching with the other old men. Now I'm just being cute like Calvino, or the lyrics to all that new adult contemporary music coming from Canada.

I like painting.
No much of it, though.
They hit hardest near to home.
It is hard to tell with paintings, when they all hang on the wall kind of the same, when they are from. The smell can give it away.
Sometimes the smell gives away that they were painted last week.

I go to galleries a lot. More than I go to movies, less than I imagine art historians go. Mostly I go on sunny days when I am in another city, or on Tuesdays when I am in Montreal.
I keep trying to walk into a gallery and have this all change. To be knocked on my ass and care more about what did it than my ass pain. Or my embarrassment. That's like feeling self-concious when you're drunk, and trying to drink it away because you heard that booze lowers your inhibitions
Maybe this is why I don't collect painting.

* The top photo is from the opening of "the strange space that keeps us together" at the Belkin Satellite. In the photo is Colin, Me , and Jacqueline Mabey. I don't know who took it. The show is still up and you should all go see it before April 6th.

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