Question everything / Everything's a question?

We all know that famous cliche of the artist sitting in his (I made that male-centric on purpose) studio for days, weeks, years to no end. Furiously pouring out master pieces that evoke the questions deep within us we dare not expose for they may spiral us all into a never-ending whirlpool of existential doubt. The artist who survives solely on booze, drugs and a sense of self satisfaction. An artist who with out being social has the ability to pull out a mirror and glare it in the face of society. There is no stopping this artist, he is a one man factory of cultural desirabilities. everything that he leaves a mark on is some how turned to gold, think a scribble by Picasso, a rogue spray of paint by Pollock, a drop of blood from the ear of Van Gough. We all know the Artist who is hyper aware of everything they do. Every interaction becomes an opportunity for an enlightenment. the wardrobe is full of black skivvees and single malt is the only whiskey to drink, every other whiskey is a symbol of oppression. Hyper aware and overly intellectual.   But what the mark of an artist? 

There is no doubt that along with any creative field there is an argument that an obsessive (whether that be retentive or addictive) personality may be the shadow that follows and in some cases jumping the fence into mental illness. But what about the Ponderer, in such a complicated world with so many varied ways of communicating isn't it the job of the artist to concisely fabricate a work that transcends the vague terms of art wank to communicate vital information to the soul that are not open to interpretation because the thought behind each action is beyond (yet explainable) the comprehension of its viewer.

I personally have a strong respect for both sides but each has a different perspective. The first artist, lets call him John the reclusive genius. It would be arrogant to think that his disconnection to society  has allowed John to perfectly gain perspective and in turn rise above his audience who allow him to dissect and display their intricacies and anxieties in some grand gesture of a work. Although that may happen my argument is that its Johns failed attempts to assimilate into society is what creates the inspiration, yet his audience (us) are not willing to accept him untill he has some tangible product (in a physical sense) to market as to why he acts in the socially unacceptable manner that he does. He needs to abstract and muffle his own experience and repackage it to be palatable, Think the poet who has written the greatest poem to mankind yet knows more people will be reached if he jams it into a 3 minute pop song. The audience needs a linear story, something to tell over the dinner table. Yet Johns art has become somewhat of a therapy for him, both giving him a door-way back into the world that rejected him and soothing his tortured soul by expressing all those feelings he could not put into words because now... He doesn't have to, and his audience would not dare question his genius. 

On the other side of the coin is the Philosopher, let's call him Leo. Leo sits in his chair staring at the blank canvas infront of him, sifting through the fabric of human existence, floating above the minds of his audience for days on end, asking questions and answering those questions with bigger even more profound questions. He is well known as an academic and a thinker, therefore his work must be profound and whatever the audience may feel from it is surely only scratching the surface of the years of thought and intention put into every stroke. Therefore his audience marvels at the big words used in his artist statement and later tries to regurgitate them on the shoulders of people they want to impress, This is the only work he has made for 3 years and now it hangs in front of them. He descends the staircase of academia to swan around the peasants and they, once again would not dare question his genius.

There is problems here. The illusion of some intellectual power dynamic. the very nature of art in my mind is to communicate (a complex idea in a simple way) to escape (to act as therapy for both the artist and the audience) and finally to investigate (to ask questions about our own place in the world and universe) in both cases of Leo and John the audience is left to scared to question because of a forced power dynamic handed down by the middle men of the art world to sell work because they themselves didn't have the time intellectually to deconstruct the work and perpetuate the "idea" behind it. No instead they slapped a genius stamp on someone and told the audience they were to dumb to understand.

sigh.. the sad thing is, people bought it, people still buy it and people will continue buying it. Please think before you buy let the work investigate ideas you find worthy, help you escape your everyday and communicate something you deem worthy to you, don't buy something because of someones famous.

Now Please enjoy the amazing work of Chong Chen, His series bodies and nature hit me because it creates an immediate association with our impact on the world around us. to often i live in my head this series helped me recognise that.

limited edition a collaboration of (insert dumb name) x (insert other dumb name) the rise of the artist brand

This post is about art becoming a brand.

What am I even doing here? 

wait, scratch that

if I break the forth wall and talk directly to my readership (its a very important kind of boat to me) does that make my audience feel like i am some how present in the situation of them reading this blog?

start again (revised)

What are you even doing here?

essentially you have come to the void of everything that makes up those things that i do not say when i see other artists work. Yeah I'm talkin to you (see what I did there) 

That includes many things, perhaps on the scale of, your work is to art what shirades is to dissociative identity disorder, all the way to. Good god, get out of the way, i need to harvest this particular artists genetic material and store it cryogenically so that future generations will have the chance enjoy the art-gasmic feeling i just had seeing their work. 

This Particular entry is perhaps setting up its intellectual tent more on the side of cynicism. Dont get me wrong, I know how much cynics can destroy our society by squashing the bright eyed, bushy tailed ideas of some and viciously logging the gigantic poppys that populate this alien art landscape . But after recently attending a 12 step program (cynics anonymous) I feel i am in a better position than ever to discuss ART AS BRAND. 

In a nutshell, just because from the 8 months ago you started, you produce work that bears an aesthetic similarity, just because you take that work and jam it down my throat confidently telling me its your style & the way you see the world, just because your mates attempt at a streetwear/fashion label wants to iron the image you just posted on instagram onto fluro pink hoodies from lowes... It does not make you an artist. 

There is so much danger for artists in a world that makes it so easy to market yourself. To confidently prance into the world of social media and claim that the particular creative pass-time you have been experimenting with is the be all and end all of your practice is premature at best.

How do I have the audacity to possibly suggest that another artists work on facebook is the abortion their sketch book should have had? Well because, many times I have been that artist. Staring back at the work I have put out into the world before and even possibly now is nothing but a reflection of my own arrogance coupled with a naive over excitement that has landed me in hot water plenty of times. A good example of this was when I attempted to get a studio space at a well respected art collective in sydney. I knew some of the people in the space and even had them routing for me to get it but when push came to shove it was the opinion of one particularly head strong artist in the collective that stopped me getting that space. Why? because unlike the friends of mine in the space who were up to date with the work I had been doing of late this artist was unfamiliar and only knew of a few pieces of absolute shit i had let fly into the world years before hand. Now at the time (as for possibly now) I had no idea about the absolute remorse i would look at these pieces with only a few years later. But now not only was my name essentially strapped to the back of these hovering turds, it was now hindering my progression into new and more exciting spaces both figuratively and literally.  This was bad, it made me feel bad, it made me feel like i slapped on the sticker claiming "THIS IS ART" a little too early. But whats worse than that? It's not accepting your failures and sticking by that dumb aesthetic that is essentially the musky aroma dwelling from the first bit of drawing and colouring that your friend at school said "hey bro that's radical" ( I dont know how kids speak nowadays ) . 

The argument is that this is your individual voice. but that argument holds about as firm as the skin that elegantly drapes iggy pops body. Its true, stylistic similarities develop in the work of any artist but it should be after years of working. to claim you have found that voice to early is doing a disservice not to this cynic ranting on a blog to themselves, but rather to your self. dont confine your self to a window, a framework or an aesthetic forever because you are scared people wont like your newer work. and if you do have a framework never be scared to kick it in the balls and call it a nazi, dont let it control you. 

I have done works for money that I regret, I have tried to apply an aesthetic to a piece because i was to scared to venture out from there and waist time that was ironically not important in the first place but was considered by myself to be. Like ARYZ said, "you are not here to entertain anyone" that sentiment is one that you should always carry, not everyone will like your work but if there is one thing you can do its make work that you like. now here Egon Schiele, I feel this is as fresh today as when it was made, it didnt follow trends, it stood the testicles of time, it may have even fondled the true essence of creativity.


Balls Deep in Success (Jealousy and the Art-world)

I once knew this artist. She was an artist in the truest sense. Not because she made a lot of work. Not because she had some enlightened view into society that the commoners (you and I) didn't have. Not even because she had those rayban frames with real prescription lenses inside coupled with a pair of dainty purple stockings. She made work for her, she made work that was totally outside of anyones criticism because it wasn't made for anyone else. And i don't mean your typical run of the mill "OMG I'm just a creative you know, just because, like, if i, like don't make work, I just go crazy!" (quiet vom) NO, she didnt ever tell you she was an artist, she didn't tell you she made work, she didn't tell you about her love affair with art, because it was so personal to her that it did't need your approval. I saw this piece she did, it was just text on a simple piece of textured paper, that said in the most elegantly naive handwriting.

"fuck your art"

that sentiment struck a chord in me. I love the idea that there was no approval for your ongoing time based project, or the painting you started but didn't finish, or the film you had in your mind but needed funding for. She respected your project so much she wanted nothing to do with it, and thats how you should be for hers. I was so jealous that she had that ability. I myself, especially at the time, was (am still) basically a toddler. I see a particular painting technique, or beautifully executed concept accomplished by one of my contemporaries and i essentially want to, throw sand in their face, steal their toys and start crying. I am not proud to admit that, but i feel like that competitive side to me can be both a catalyst for new ideas or be the extra push i need to get through a piece. 

but that small child can grow into a festering, boil covered, bearded, middle aged, basement living, threat to your practice if you don't keep it in check. I find the best way to keep that jealousy tasteful is to air it. Tell your artist friends about it, acknowledge its existence and listen to how ridiculous these feelings sound when you voice them.  If you keep these feelings to yourself, pretending quietly that you dont have them, they can spread like a virus into your practice. They will squash ideas before they happen because instead of looking at works that previously should have been inspiration, you will now look at them as competition or at the very least a bench mark. You will then turn that poisonous gaze to your own work, hating ideas before they happen and in some cases, as your work is a reflection of you in some ways, you will begin to hate yourself.

So next time it's 2am and you are at a bar with some strangers who bare some vague ressemblance to what people call friends of friends, and one asks you

"So your, like, an artist or something right, do you sell your work? my friend knows Lister" 

Take a quiet breath, let that panic of guilt that you haven't completed any work in a week pass. look them directly into the eyes and say.

"Would you like another drink?"

because fuck your art, fuck my art, fuck everyones art. Just try your best to do the thing that you enjoy for yourself the rest will happen when its damn well good and ready. And if per chance it doesn't, thats ok too, admiration or lack there of is not a reflection of your worth.

This is some of her work, fuckyourartnoise.tumblr

This is some of her work, fuckyourartnoise.tumblr

Ai Wei Wei couldn't give a fuck about your art

Ai Wei Wei couldn't give a fuck about your art

Bill Taylor, an outsider artist who did it for him, not for you

Bill Taylor, an outsider artist who did it for him, not for you


A love affair with self loathing and destruction

It's an interesting thought, is creativity linked with mental illness? studies over the last few years have suggested yes. It would seem that the same neuro-plasticity that contributes to interesting perspectives (supposed original thought) has a side effect of the brain not being able to protect itself from its own thought functions of existential crisis / depression / psychosis / insert mental problem here. An interesting idea that totally does not mean that if you have a metal illness you are somehow an artist. Statistically and logically speaking you are not. 

How do I explain this without hurting your feelings? Well it comes down to a fallacy of correlation and causality. Just because your struggle with depression seems to run in parallel to your dreams of becoming an artist it doesn't mean that one causes the other. Its true there are plenty of examples about how people use art as therapy and studies to suggest great results within that but try to think of it this way. You are struggling with a mental illness, its suggested to you by a friend that you exercise to stimulate endorphins, it would be illogical to assume that after a few times out jogging you have a "natural talent" as a marathon runner.  

anyway where is this going jamie, you totally killed my vibe by suggesting that the click bait article i read earlier may have sensationalised something that rubbed my ego in a soothing circular motion. Well, has this gone full circle? Has culture forced this idea of the troubled artist down the throats of generations post 60's (in western culture) that now it is somehow a pre requisite to getting in a gallery. Do you need to have a sad story about riding the white pony in the 90's to have the commercial art world let you in the door? Is it now just as crucial as cigarettes, long blacks and brief stage of wearing interesting hats to becoming a real artist? Nigel Milsom recently won an art prize of 150 000 dollars in Australia from prison. Why was he in prison? Because when he previously won an art prize of 10 000 dollars he went on a 4 day ice bender and robbed a connivence store. This how ever is inconvenient to what ever point im slowing waving my arms around (saying "not touching you!") because Nigel is in fact a fantastic artist. 

Basically this argument is about looking at things retrospectively. you need to make it as an artist first before you can turn around and thank your mental illness for all the highs and lows to draw inspiration from.

to suggest otherwise Rowland would be rolling in his grave.

predisposition for creative abilities and mood disorder -> development of creative abilities along with adverse life events growing up-> drug addiction -> fame -> added stress -> major adverse life event -> overdose -> death

enjoy your long black

Roland.jpg
057761-adam-cullen.jpg

 

Tom Ferson, a loaded gun pointed directly between the eyes of the art world

In all seriousness, I have not ever been so overwhelmed with a feeling of "thank god someone in our generation is making exceptional work" and "my god i want his powers, perhaps if i sacrifice him to the art gods and wear his toes around my neck I will be able to sport 1 tenth of his skill" at the same time. Tom is an artist with the balance down pat (whos pat? fuck it, doesn't matter). Tom has that blend of conceptually powerful work, an interesting and unique process, a strong visual style / aesthetic and finally being a genuine dude. I have no idea why he hasn't been swept into the commercial gallery / auction world because once they find this guy people wont be able to get enough. Thats why hes a loaded gun, thats why if you havent purchased any of his work now you will be kicking yourself for the rest of your dull "Ferson-less" life.

http://tomferson.com.au/

*Enjoy the following visual orgy of awesome art responsibly

 

Alex G, Done gone and did it

I see alot of art. I love seeing whats going on. Sometimes you see work and you think fuck me thats horrible, get it away from me. But, sometimes you see work and you say "jesus fucking christ get out of the way, thats fucking sick, why didn't i think of that?!" thats kind of how i felt about the work of Alex G. His new show just opened called "DO YOU AGREE?" @ MT. MELVIL, CULVER CITY, looks amazing. Faceless figures, perfectly rendered in strange situations makes for surprisingly relatable artwork that creates a little world of its own. also I like his outlook.

"My work is figurative and heavily drawn from personal experience but is created without any intent to communicate specifics. Rather than explicitly illustrating distinct moments/people in life, I try to capture the mood and feeling they can carry. The figures have no identity beyond sex. The environments have no context or representation of actual places. Tertiary elements are limited to plants. The aim is to allow a scene, in which the viewers could project their own characters and plot line.” – Alex G

Solid words mate. all the best

Jonathan Mcburnie crouches down and shits on your work

There is not enough good to say about Jonathans work. Having PHD in art does not mean you are a good artist but in Jonathans case he has that going for him as well. It is rare to find an artist who has that perfect balance. His work is conceptual yet maintains a naivety making it not at all pretentious. He doesn't pretend to have some grand insight into society but rather has constructed a world of his own, drawing from (see what i did there) his own interests and experiences. He has the work ethic of a Nike factory in China yet nothing he does feels laboured. He is the kind of artist you want to hate but can't because hes such a fucking nice guy. God damn it J-Burn, keep it up. 

Erik Jones

I have loved the work of Erik Jones for a long time. Originally starting as an illustrator I found his transition into the fine art world amazingly effortless. I love the juxtaposition and relation of realism and abstraction, his association between flat and 3d and finally his use of colour and form. this guys has got it down. The only question is where to from here? He has a few more rules to break and I for one will be watching closely. 

Ian Francis (the chosen form of your destroyer)

What a great Title! 

The Chosen Form of Your Destroyer is focused on a new series of mixed media works depicting the coexistence of beauty and destruction in modern society. The show runs now through August 1, 2015. Ians work is beautiful, melancholic, dark and full of life. To me the structures and figures in the work are making direct links to Francis Bacon but in a new and interesting way, like a continuation rather than being to derivative.

ian-francis-the-chosen-form-of-your-destroyer-2786.jpg

Best Of The Archis

Welcome To the Best of the 2015 Archibald Prize. A great portrait painter friend of mine once told me "Just like the Melbourne Cup makes everyone a horse racing expert, the Archi's makes them all a fucking Art Critic!"  Here are some great portraits from this years finalists. 

Beautiful use of texture from Juan Ford

Beautiful use of texture from Juan Ford

My favourite mentor and lecturer Tim Gregory a self portrait

My favourite mentor and lecturer Tim Gregory a self portrait

Kim Leutwyler painted the beautiful Ollie Henderson

Kim Leutwyler painted the beautiful Ollie Henderson

Nigel Milsom out of prison and painting beautifully.

Nigel Milsom out of prison and painting beautifully.


Conor Harrington

Conor Harrington. The ability to perfectly balance abstraction and realism. Here is a little bit of his studio work. Such vibrant colours in morbid scenes, a man after my own heart.

for more check out http://www.conorharrington.com/

Michael Kagan

This is Michael Kagan. The way this guy applies paint is so beautiful. effortless detail. I cant wait to check out his 2016 show at  Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY.

Mankind oil on Linen

Check out more of his work at

www.michaelkagan.com