Abstract Painting – Regroup IV
“But painting’s neck refused to be wrung, of course. The oft-repeated maxim ‘That which does not kill me makes me stronger’ would seem to work as well as a motto for painting as it does for people; and perhaps this is the key message Schjeldahl sends from the recent past into our present. Of all the artists he writes about in his generous, inclusive essay, he has this to say: ‘In each case something of the wide world- some vernacular tone or maverick sensibility- has flown in through the studio window and been caught in paint, where it propagates. This is the reverse of so-called Postmodern appropriation. Instead of incorporating bits and pieces of received cultural debris into their art, these painters turn over their art wholesale to an inclusive sense of culture.’ Painters who are prepared to wholeheartedly welcome the introduction of Schjeldahl’s ‘choice contaminants’ will be best placed to revivify their art form; rather than finishing it off for good- the implicit or explicit aim of so much Postmodern art- these ‘contaminants’ can actually serve to strengthen painting’s ailing immune system.” [John Bunker on Peter Schjeldahl’s essay Abstraction II and exhibition review of That Was Then This is Now]
“The mourning period is over. Away with the delicately toned hysterias. History is not only not over, it has reawakened after fever dreams of history. Anyone who does anything now bets on the future. Abstraction is dead. So is the idea that abstraction is dead. No longer ideological causes or independent values, abstract thought and aesthetics are as good as the jobs that they find to do. The jobs are any. First, at this early stage of Abstraction II, comes the imperative to bring abstraction down to equality with other human brainstorms and capacities. No more self-importance. No more fainting fits. In the twenty-first century, everyone and everything must show up for work.
Pragmatism rules. That which succeeds needs no theory. Theory without successful works is dead. The measure is human satisfaction. New art that is really new seeks an original comprehension of what people like. New abstract art seeks such knowledge abstractly, on a plane of predilections: conditions, habits… As viewers of abstract painting, we are invited to be experimental agents of humanity, testing on ourselves certain propositions of how our species operates. This was true also of Abstraction I. Different now is a humbled attentiveness to what people actually and darkly are, not what they ideally and brightly ought to be.” [Peter Schjeldahl on Abstraction II in Abstract Painting Once Removed Catalogue]
“I care more about the plot of painting as dynamic archaeology, rather than thinking about formalism, modernism or post whatever. Formalism, to me, is just an obsession. I’m interested in informalism but not as negation of form like the Europeans, instead, I see forms as pleated, being there as mental cartography, you know, pleated as speed of thoughts. I see my work as “painting in spite of itself,” instead of “painting itself” which is what the dogmatic formalists saw.
… basically, it means the painting is going against its own principles. A modern painter like Mondrian talks about the neutralization of every center, and all the hierarchies of the pictorial space to create mutual equivalences. What I am trying to do is to engage all the generic elements of painting, the brushstrokes, lines, ground… to create mutual betrayals…
Painting is more flexible than other mediums because it can absorb, it is more parasitic, it can spread in conceptual activity, and its objecthood is more complex than sculpture. Conceptual art or the failure of its theories, is limited by the domain of its interpreters. Painting was always more flexible, it can deal with anachronism, between Schnabel and Kosuth, with soft histories, with soft categories.” [Fabian Marcaccio in conversation with Shirley Kaneda]