Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Light but Heavy

(Wendy White, Easy Rant, 2009)

Casual, ambivalent, unfinished are words that have been tossed around to describe current painting practices and artmaking: everything from Richard Tuttle, to slapdash abstract painting good and bad, to the Unmonumental show at the New Museum a few years back, to thin paint and “bad painting.” This article calls it “provisional.”

I think the gist is accurate: I do see a lot of under-wrought work around. I’m attracted to it because it doesn’t necessarily follow the rules and also you can see a human spirit at play. I look for vitality and rawness in art and I usually find it in the handmade.

But I’m not such a fan of many of these words, because I take myself seriously as an artist, and words like “casual” don’t sound very substantial. And yet, many writers have suggested that you can be serious and casual at the same time. Maybe. Personally, I’m never casual, even though I’d like to be. The drive behind my own immediate, quick spurts tends to be restlessness, often anxiety.

These words have been pitched as the opposite of program and agenda. And a dichotomy has also been established between everyday and ideal, ideal being a thing of the past, apparently.

I have ideals and I think art can be powerful. I also can feel disillusioned, helpless and that there’s nothing we can do about the way the world or the artworld or art is going. I can be in between an optimist and a cynic, but I’m not indifferent.

All this said, do words help you see?


LXV said...

Molly, I've been out of town and pre-occupied with non-art things (are there really such?), but have to say that your recent posts are quite brilliant and a real treat. Sometimes I feel too idiotic and incoherent to comment, but I look forward to reading them, even if I can't manage a response in writing. What I appreciate most is a quality that I would have to call emotional honesty. It's risky, especially on-line. But it invites engagement. And in future, I will try harder to engage.

Molly Stevens said...

LXV,many thanks for this note!