Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Untitled: The nameless, the shameless and the boss from hell

Mondays are universally despised.

Some Monday mornings are worse for some than others. Yesterday for example, two poor souls in different parts of the city threw themselves in front of the train - A stark reminder of how fragile the human spirit can be when faced with adversity.

Referred by the train conductor as “Fatalities,” may they transcend the bardo states in peace.

Yesterday, I had what a Roman legionnaire once described as a Dayius Horrubulus (Shit Day), because my boss behaved in a fashion which left me feeling violated and disappointed with the human condition.

Anyway, I hit a low point and made an excuse to take the afternoon off. As I wondered around Sloane Square, I popped into the Saatchi Gallery to catch the Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture exhibition – one of the most rewarding decisions I have made all year.

The space itself is so beautifully designed and easy on the eye – a perfect host for the array of abstract art. The walls were a perfect white for a start.

The exhibition was beautifully curated and the luxury of space all around you enabled your thoughts to project across the room and fuse with the art. And because I was in a really abstract mood: (millennium malaise coupled with rebellion), the whole experience was soothing, like an emotional massage.

Better than a raspberry martini, better than a walk in the park, better than breathing exercises.

“Artists are the God-like creatures steering to the future, altering the culture for a generation. They are the shepherds. Their labours create the consciousness of the times.”

Wondering from room to room, my pain faded away as I took in all the artworks and tried to decipher the message each artist was conveying balanced with how it made me feel. The brain automatically knows how to recognise beauty - and when the golden mean is evident in an artwork, you allow yourself to take it in as it is, with no immediate need to read up about the work or even look at the title. The appreciation comes naturally. Eric and Heather ChanSchatz, PTG.75 (White Pitcher), 2007, is a perfect example.

With other pieces, I could not quell the need to read up about it before I made my own conclusions, because they looked so quaint and so personal , with their use of mundane objects such as old socks, lightbulbs, brown tape and a bit of carpet. A superb poet I once knew always told me to look for beauty in the mundane – but here beauty was not evident. But curiosity was, and that within itself is a form of beauty.

Now I am not going to pretend that I am an art critic here – so I included below an extract from the exhibition pamphlet. The exhibition ends on the 13th September, an unlucky number in this case, as I wish I could be there for ever.

“Abstract America reveals many of the complexities faced by that morphing breed, the abstract painters. One social crisis and its artistic consequence have followed another. The Minimalist artists of Vietnam era America dismantled the fading hegemony of Abstract Expressionism and Pop. On the heels of the stock market crash in 1987 identity politics and appropriation fuelled comment on post-Reagan American through the new media of photo and video installations. Today the abstract has a ‘virtual’ ramification. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology and the "gap between life and art" exploited by Robert Rauschenberg have gone digital. The early 21st century painter has hijacked the new technology and its constantly updated gadgets. A revolving door of references from both the real and the virtual have led to the emergence of the Painter of Modern Paradoxes, to paraphrase Charles Baudelaire. The "contemporary" now seems to alternate between Modernist change and Postmodernist remix. An "alter-modernity," a phrase coined Nicolas Bourriaud in his forthcoming book is happening. Paradoxical it may be, but true none-the-less.”

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