Slide Show - Images (mostly) from The Illustrated History of Painting


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Samuel Beckett writes - "nothing is funnier than unhappiness."

Artists and cartoon characters concur.

There's nothing much funnier than an artist's visually apparent unhappiness with whatever preceded his or her own production.

Art more often than not issues convulsively from its maker's unhappiness at having internalized and (of course) acted upon Marx's adversarial dictum "I am nothing and should be everything."

The entertainment (and the rub) lies in the historical reality that if an artist hopes to displace an existent 'everything' with his or her up-and-coming 'nothing' then there had better be at least a passing reference to whatever (of significance) came before.

Art about art is envy masquerading as influence and homage. Often taking the form of a sort of Oliver Hardy-esque dyspeptic-pot-shot at prominent (and putatively obstructionist) work that preceded (but won't make way for) puppyish, one-upping, commentators.

Have empathy for young artists who now must model and test their work against (and after) ready-to-hand targets - such as Dan Arps, Simon Denny, Dane Mitchell, Eve Armstrong, Robert Hood and Tahi Moore - artists who incarnate the very Destruktion the young wish to visit upon them.

Campbell Patterson’s sultana bran and spit works are emblematic (or symptomatic) of the aforementioned envy-crisis. And only (just manages to) be functionally funny by literally throwing in the towel.

Now, is there anything unhappier than that?