- Of art and lies
Of art and lies
Ok google. Open Spotify.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a live music concert. It was one of the best known artists of the international scene. I enjoyed it a lot, because -what a surprise!-, we were only four people in that concert hall and, you know about me, I’m not a fan of places with people… so to speak.
When finished, I was able to talk to the other few attendees and they all commented the same thing: lately nobody went to concerts because music had become something cryptic, something only for musicians. People didn’t understand if what they were listening to was good or bad, if it was worth paying for or not… they couldn’t even decide if they personally liked it or not… so, faced with so much confusion, they decided not to listen to music, and by extension not to go to any concerts.
What a shame, really, that this way music is going to disappear. Nobody cares anymore. With all the messages, values, poetry and emotions that it transmitted to us… or we transmitted to each other through it. How it united us, how it made us feel, share, understand…
Now, the musicians dedicate themselves to sing about the music itself. The lyrics talk about notes, about impossible compositions, about taking music to a higher level… and of course, only musicians understand it, and only musicians are interested.
What a shame… if it were true.
This is not really happening, you know, at least with music. But it is happening with another creative field, it is happening with ART, and it has been happening for several decades.
Painting, perhaps, is more likely to recruit thinkers and philosophers, people more interested in studying culture than in living it, sharing it or producing it. The art world has always been full of people who are pedantic, snob, marginalized or with few social skills, who end up expressing their vital needs through an indirect medium such as painting, writing, photography…. This is true.
The feeling about music was similar until, perhaps because of the consumer society, we started to turn musicians into a sort of gods, saints to be prayed to with their own musical prayers, and maybe that has saved them. Music more easily awakens emotions and thoughts, even desires. Mathematical sound has that magic, it activates the strings with which we think and remember, and we love that.
But what about painting?
We painters, especially since the 19th century, strive to be outsiders, bohemians, characters outside any classification or foresight. When we create we compose, we use pieces that already exist to create new elements, but we must put it all together from nonsense to arrive at something new that sometimes makes new sense. This is creativity, and it is addictive, and you end up doing the same with everything around you. I have a freezer full of legs.
This is why it is said that art is a language. It is not only because, again sometimes and not always, it serves to express, but because it is composed of meaningless particles (letters) that grouped together form logical structures that represent something real (words). In this way, an artist chooses a word from the dictionary, breaks it down, rearranges it, perhaps mixes it with other words, some words he has heard from someone influential, and thus “creates” (you can’t create anything, I’ve already said it. IT IS COMPOSED!) a new word or phrase with a new meaning. Pure genius. Ask Picasso.
Now, let’s imagine that our genius composes hundreds of words that, well, only he understands.
It’s a kind of language of his own that no one else understands. Does that make sense? What’s the point of a language if not to communicate with others? Well, it can have aesthetic purposes, like Tolkien’s Quenya, which looks very pretty but let’s not fool ourselves, it’s easier to choke… Or it can have a ludic function, we are simply playing at creating languages because creating languages is a fun and enriching activity. I don’t know!
And here’s the problem.
We’re all past the “what is art”, “this is art” and “this is not art” debate. That can be done by my 5 year old daughter does with a pen. My pussy is art… and so on.
It is my opinion, and it should be yours too that, in the end, art is anything created by an intelligent being with a motivation beyond the merely functional.
That is to say.
Let’s imagine the first glass in history. It would be a bowl, half a coconut, a braided leaf… anything that served a function. Beautiful. Or not. But once we have the technique under control, we might think that perhaps it is not decorous for the chief of the tribe to drink her camel spit in a coconut bowl, like everyone else, and perhaps it should have a shape, a color, some inlays that make it different, beautiful, pleasant, that speak of the status of the person who owns it, that speak of the creativity of the tribe, of the talent, of the time in which the artist who creates it lives.
It is no longer something functional, it starts to be something with an additional motivation, with a message, that has information. Even when it is something aesthetic it is telling us about the taste of the time, about the resources… It is an object with information.
And at the same time as the objects, art reached actions, words, sounds, movements, war strategies, clothes or even the structure of society itself.
In everything there is information that the human being, in our case, has added for others.
Everything is art.
And why are we no longer interested in art?
Art interests us, but we don’t realize it. What doesn’t interest us is art that talks about art. That’s an unbearable pain in the ass (or wherever you would feel uncomfortable feeling pain).
From Marcel Duchamp and his piss-pot, then Klein and his “painting” paintings, and even Hirst and his colored dots or Jeff Koons and his plastic dolls made by other people… art has not talked about anything else but itself.
Artists have experimented with techniques and media to talk about art. They no longer talk about love, death, society, beauty… now they talk about the possibilities of art itself. They talk about how far the definition of art, painting, sculpture or performance can go. They speak of perception, of the media, of the interpretative… of increasingly abstract and meta-artistic concepts that, frankly, do not even interest us artists anymore.
And therein lies the culprit. Artists and scholars may be interested in that art, but what does it matter to some lovers? to a lost child? to a lonely being? to a struggling woman? What does it matter to them how black a black color can be, how a white canvas on a white background can be called art, how a Serbian jerk counts grains of rice until the audience goes into ketosis…
Nobody cares about that. And few do anything to change it.
So… here I am, singing alone.
I spend most of my time in a 50-foot room, surrounded by paint, in a brightly lit little house in southern Spain. Here the rents are cheaper, and you can be an artist without having to work in Mercadona.
My work is to compose images about things that not only concern me and come out of my life experience, but that I know concern us all. My goal is visibility. To be seen. Because I think, arrogantly but to some extent objectively, that what I have to say is important, and that I can make others feel a little less alone.
There are many people who will never get a message that they need and that maybe I have, because art is boring, it’s only for people who “understand art”.
Don’t let any self-styled representative of art tell you what is good and expensive, and what is vulgar and brut. If your 5 year old daughter can do it, if with a mop and a lighter you can do it, if it doesn’t make you feel anything, if it doesn’t mean anything to you… it will be art, but it is not good.
Painting, and art in general, has to be like music. We all know if we like a song or not. Nobody says “Oops, I don’t understand reggaeton so I don’t know if I like it”, “I don’t know if this Pop is any good”, or “My 5 year old daughter sings like Enrico Caruso”.
Believe me, if you like it, it’s good. If you don’t like it, it’s bad art. You were right.
And to you, gallery owners and curators: stop busting our balls and stealing from artists, you better pass by Mercadona.