Exploding the myth about abstract art
I had attended a junior art school for three years, been buffeted by a four year course at a major art college was about to attend an interview at the Royal College and I still had not grasped the real meaning behind abstract art. I had been told that I had a pictorial talent and students seemed to divide into two camps, representational and abstract. What a struggle it was; both ways of working held great fascination and if you suddenly produced an abstract work, it was a kind of 'coming out', the intellectual abstract artists said 'Not you too!' as if ironically, they inwardly cherished the historic legacy of image-making.
Opting out of discipline
I could see that some people became abstract as a means of escaping the fact that they weren't too hot at drawing 'a lazy way out' (so they thought). Some worked in an abstract way because they felt under threat from their peers, felt old fashioned or were influenced by the great American abstract schools (funded as a counter-communist culture).
The new injection
Here I was, in love with artists like Stanley Spencer who's work was rich in observed detail, who continually intrigued the eye while containing a dark medieval visionary undercurrent that was still rooted in the traditions of Edwardian England. I am sure that the Royal College were interested in my work because it seemed to them to be a weird eccentric anachronism in a world of growing conformity, just what they were looking for to keep them on the radical but workmanlike map.
I eventually found my footing at the Royal Academy which if anything, went the other way, and was at that time rooted in the traditions of pictorial art tilted towards people of title, influence and affluence which often resulted in elaborate but weak creativity. It was at that time (1964-6) that the 'Young Contemporaries' as they were called, were invited to exhibit at the Royal Academy Summer Show, to inoculate it against being backward, stagnant and without a contemporary credibility. Artists like Peter Blake, Allen Jones, David Hockney, Brigit Riley, Sandra Blow and many others were given wall space in an institution that previously would have denied them entry!
Protest against the loss of tradition.
I had exercised a public demonstration in front of a large canvas painted entirely red with one thin blue stripe running right across it, by ripping to shreds an expensive suite I was wearing in protest to art that I thought vacuous and insulting to those who had spent their entire lives in study, practice and the pursuit of excellence. Then after much analytical thought, the curtains were lifted from my eyes, Pablo Picasso held the key to my eyes, Stravinsky and Stockhousen to my ears.
I realised that a colour, shape, form for example, was an entity in its own right, that it had a power, an energy beyond the artist or maker. I also realised that a painting did not necessarily require a frame as a matter of course. The frame might 'contain' the work, make it seem more important, but as the painting was not about the frame, it became extraneous. The armature, plinth, support of a sculpture could also be dispensed with allowing the form to live on its own in a similar way, independent of an extra aggrandizement. The journey did not stop there as soon it became apparent in a post-modernist world, that the frame or the plinth could be exhibited as an art form or anti-art form in its own right.
The abstract legacy
Now I had a new anger but more under control as I examined in detail the impact of Post Modernism on young students in an art world that followed fashion as sheep. I could not condemn the right of the individual to work as they wished, but I could condemn institutions that use the Post Modernist way of thinking as a required way, as a mode of dictatorship that denied the legacy of history and the glorious legacy of traditional skills. Damien Hurst's shark in formaldehyde 'might' shock us on Monday but by Tuesday it had become as traditional as walking on the moon!
Please read my paper 'The End of Post Modernism', on go to Archive then 'Zacron Writings'.
As an artist who tries to help others to untangle this web of histories, events and 'isms', I say with clarity, that the art educational establishment has got it very wrong indeed, I tell them and today I am in a position to inform you, setting you on a journey of greater freedom!
The art of the people comes with censorship.
Out of the Post Modernist era has come some great new approaches to making images, things and art.
It has brought about a vital change in the way art was being used as a tool of status as apposed to stature. It is less elitist and more an art of the people, it is touchable, approachable but is often obscure.
Art becomes elitist if it is shown to the public while its meaning or intended function is hidden with no apparent means of study and understanding available.
Within the realms of freedom there should be no pressure to make a bridge with the public or fear of being called self indulgent, however, as a non-elitist I have to say that communication skills are not
of a lower order, nor should any other human process be. There is no hierarchy in the media, in the crafts or skills just as the workers are as vital as the manager.
Is change always good?
So why does Post Modernism shun human creativity from the past, traditional skills, inherited techniques and art forms, and like the Tate Modern, displays our creative history as a linear existentialist progression - 'yesterday chopped off and cleared away ready for the new day that will change it all.' This has resulted in the production of novelty surface veneers without archaeological layers, a lateral vision that is desperate to appear original, blind to the fact that it is innate.
Surely it is understood that we rely upon the legacy of history to avoid the repetition of war, to allow the strengths of humanity to filter through from the past to the present.
Hijacking the young.
Manipulators vicariously use the assertive needs of the post adolescent group to create a regime that stifles the holistic enrichment of creativity in society long after some further education course writers have flexed their misguided muscles. It is true to say that some student thrive in an atmosphere of adversity and are mature enough to rationalise, to come to their own conclusions about true creative freedom even though they suffer a reduction in their grade. There are many who are afraid to buck the system and who become casualties and loose their way. This is a seriously wrong development and that is why I have included it in this section of the tutorials.
Languages around the world have a developmental history that is helping us understand our true origin.
Our creative languages include writing, pictograms, the modeling of forms and the making of images from the earliest known human species. Our arts cultivate a growth of language that portrays us as a species through developments in our modern anthropology.
I regard art as being human ecology, and viewed holistically, as a powerful thermometer that continually takes the 'temperature' of our physical and mental development while sustaining a communicating bridge between all the regions of the Earth. If you look at art in this way, the surface veneers may appear to change but in reality, human needs remain the same and that is precisely why Post Modernism is not just narrow and dictatorial, but it betrays creative freedom and the value of historic links within the human race through all of time, while pretending to be all-seeing, it is a blind doctrine.
The concept of abstraction is older than the human race.
If you take selected elements from something, you are abstracting them. Those elements are of course still within the original which therefore has abstract properties. If this is so, then a pictorial or representational image has abstract properties. Studies of trees by Paul Cezanne are very identifiable yet they are entirely structured with regard to abstract dynamics, invisible alignments that create tension.
A building is constructed from abstract volumes and proportions, ergonomic tensions, even the more decorative elements have an underlying abstract visual weight and alignment.
It could also be said that even an extremely abstracted image can represent something either consciously, subliminally or by implication, so that narrows the gap between abstract and representational, considerably. Plato understood that geometric forms, lines and angles had properties that were aesthetic and powerful in their own right as independent entities. When you consider that sacred geometry was recognized as having a power long before the great flood, through the great civilizations (the 'high tech' neolithic civilizations) that are now coming to light in spite of an endless establishment cover-up.
Advanced technologies that have come here from beyond Earth will have had great knowledge of the fundamental properties and energies in geometric/natural alignments through astronomy, science, geophysics, alchemy, even genetics beyond 500 million years, long before human life was introduced to Earth.
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