Bereft or Distraught or Confused (again)

April 22, 2011

So I’ve reached one of those stretches where I’m getting older and my art “career” has lost its legs and I’ve encountered people now doing “better” Fake Iraq work than me and when this happens it’s always a compulsive sort of hacking up of work that adds to no particular program and is more a response to what it seems like most contporary art is after: beauty and precision.

I’m skilled in neither but, in wrestling with how to bend abstraction to conceptual will this year the idea of beauty and abstraction loom large as easy fixes to challenging people with complex networks of concepts and images.  It’s the old
“just make something dumb and pretty” urge.  And while part of me still finds abstraction anathema because it’s brainwork that gets it over for me in art, I can think of many examples of successful artists who are smart and “conceptual” but who trade in on beauty and get work shown because they know how to play the game.

So coughing up some partly-dismantled versions of that is a way to get the self-doubt out of my system for a while so I can go back to running the show on my own terms.  My five-year-old niece is over every morning before she starts kindergarten in the fall and we do a lot of drawing, so I have a bunch of stuff made with circle stencils never meant to be seen in an art practice context that I have shoved in that direction thanks to Photoshop.   And then there’s things like the pencil-shaving image, photography for me that signals where I’m at right now; cameraless and flat and illustrative of something both banal and elusive.  So where I’m at right now is I’m not sure; there’s work on masculinity and work on the queer landscape and work on representations of mental illness all in the works, all of which I’ll get on with soon after I’m back from surgery in better form, but this week it’s just been convulsive stabs at pretty, which is essentially harmless as a kind of throat-clearing while you decide what you really want to say.

And part two of this is being called out as an intuitive artist and going back and reading my LeWitt and I’ll get to that in a future post.


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