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Infected Gripes

A while back the art magazine “Modern Painters” had a change of ownership. Now I always used to enjoy getting my subscription – I could be sure that there would be an article or two on modern painters. After the change over that didn’t seem to be the case any longer, and because of that, I let my subscription lapse a few months ago. The one thing I did miss was reading Matthew Colling’s column each month. So I recently purchased the October 2008 issue in hopes that things might have changed with the magazine. Collings is in fine form and that is a lot of fun. But there isn’t one fucking article on painting. Well maybe that’s not entirely fair, there is an article on an Iraqi muralist whose bravery and determination to create beauty is inspiring. And aside from the show reviews in the back, you’d be hard pressed to find a word about modern painters anywhere. Ok, I understand that art is more than painting, that it can and does encompass anything an artist does, but if that’s the case, then why the magazine title? Is it meant to be ironic, sarcastic, controversial, spiteful or all of the above? When the new regime took over were they holding on to the name so as not to confuse subscribers? Why not call the magazine “Modern Artists” or “Modern Painters…Not” or “Painters – written in that red circle with the line through it – Magazine”. Wassupwidat?

Last week I trundled through Chelsea looking for something to see, something to write about or something that might pique my interest. Basically what happened was that I got to hang out with a friend, chat about nothing special, and eat lunch at an overcrowded diner. Crickey mate, there is a weird vibe going on in the galleries at the moment. It feels like the 90s when things were drying up fast. You could almost hear the sound of commerce being sucked out of the area. The cherry on top of this gooey mess was the Lari Pittman show at Gladstone. These Postmodern puzzles looked to be out of ideas. They were really well made, fantastically showy collaged imagery, but nothing more than studio product made for the well-healed collector. I really admire the production of these sorts of pieces, they look expensive, professional and slick. Its a level of professional polish I will never attain, but so what? It ain’t my thing. So I went back to my studio to tinker a bit.

To top it all off I have a nasty cold. Boo fuckin’ hoo. So this coming week we all take a collective deep breath and go to the polls here in the US. Whatever the outcome at the polls, it is generally acknowledged that this country will have to face a few demons of its own making. How deeply and effectively we confront those demons will play out over the next 4 years. What we are are witnessing for sure, is the end of something in our culture, and it won’t go without a fight. It’s going to get nasty, especially among the citizenry, but there is a growing intellectual dissent forming. Will we be able to create something new? I remain suspect, because the change that will have to happen is going to have to come from outside the systems in place. New ideas must challenge the entrenched cronyism and incestuous relationships that have developed over the last 40 years or more. Whether politics, economics or art the Postmodern world controls it all assimilating anyone and anything into its systems, institutions and academies. Real thought, new ideas and change will have to come from somewhere else, and it will have to convince a worn out culture that things can be different. Otherwise, no matter who is in charge, it will be more of the same. As David Hockney has said, ‘Exciting times lie ahead!”

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