Tag Archives: article

Integrity and disintegration… (Whilt 18)

From time to time, and recently quite often, I catch myself as being innocently and profoundly ignorant as to the meaning of some concepts, ideas, words, phrases… It’s got something to do with the English as an adopted language; even if it’s used completely naturally and fluently – there is always that surreal quality of putting on a mask, a costume, going on stage each time I have to or choose to communicate in not-my-mother-tongue… What’s interesting, that after years of being cut of the sophisticated, literary and everyday usage of Polish I’ve lost that absolute ‘feeling’, that innate sense of my first language… So, I’m somewhere between; and even craving – I’m not able to create a decent fiction or poems in either of codes of expression… not yet, not without a considerable struggle, at least…

So, I’ve come across that concept of the artistic integrity – first I had to check in five different dictionaries (of three languages) extended definitions of the notion; each one had a slightly varying shade of meaning attached; so I felt like juggling between them composing the balanced outlook…

Then – the tougher bit came when I asked myself – But what exactly does it mean – to be an artist of integrity? Does it mean the same as being the man of integrity, or – can the professional integrity coexist with the personal disintegration and vice-versa? Is integrity ‘merely’ a virtue you possess or not like courage or modesty, or rather a fundamental component of any individual, without which a serious trouble creeps into your life?… And  how this noble talk relates to the contemporary postmodern ethics (or rather non-ethics) of making/dealing with art? Who has, who can afford now to keep his/hers artistic integrity over time, when sometimes one call from a hated curator or a critic you disregard may be a life changing event? And so on, and so on…

Quite recently I’ve unwillingly provoked one of my tutors (calling my new paintings ‘a mess’) to form and challenge me with ‘the tough question’: If you won’t have an integrity with your work – who else will? To have an integrity with one’s work – that means to be unified in terms of the intent, concepts and the general message; or does it? If I call my own work ‘a mess’ – publicly and honestly – isn’t that enough to prove my solidarity with it? My demanding, yet compassionate unity with a piece of art which happens to be as confused as its author? Does it always have to sound ‘assertive’ and ‘confident’; ‘positive’ and ‘grand’ – like in salesmen’ slimy talk where even obvious downsides are clothed in sweetish-easy ‘solutions’…

And why is ‘integrity’ such a sought feature in an artist after all? I bet it suits perfectly some particular ‘breeds’ of professions – lawyers, doctors, teachers, intellectuals – sure… I know men who are a book-like example of the whole phenomenon – they’re noble and loyal, creative and open-minded; yet there is something vital missing in them – a spark of imagination empowering to jump in the dark, to take bold risks and challenge barriers or even rules, if necessary; they’re the guardians of the gates – and no artist should aim at that domain (not only, not merely, not predominantly).

An artist is a man of integrity chiefly via the creative act – by doing what he was born for – in the best, most dedicated way he/she knows and can apply; what comes to the world from that act is another matter – yet so-called integrity has nothing, or little to do with that.

If my work’s integrity comes from its conscious and chosen disintegration and subversion who can prove it wrong, and on which grounds?

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Contemporary Art (1) – Elliot Hundley

Elliot Hundley lives and works in Los Angeles; right after finishing his MA in Fine Art in 2005 he had rocketed to a sort of a local celebrity (see the appraisal of the artist in the Herald Tribune). Yet, his talent has been noticed beyond the ‘family’ ground and he enjoyed few interesting projects/exhibitions in 2006 and 2007. Especially the one in Andrea Rosen’s Gallery in New York has captured my attention due its unconventional, fresh appeal (visit the show here). In 2008/2009 program of the Saatchi Gallery in London Hundley’s work has been placed into the “Upcoming exhibitions” and “Abstract America: New Painting from the US” section and one can see his works with this pleasant critical brief:

Mining the nostalgic and sentimental qualities of his eclectic materials, Elliott Hundley’s collages create condensed ‘dreamscapes’, entwining the personal and symbolic into friable mythologies. Hundley engages with the dramatic in the staged emotiveness of his structures and in the performative element of their intensive making process. (…)Using formalism as a platform for narrative structure, Hundley’s exquisitely delicate consternation transforms the act of looking into an adventure of exploration and discovery. (see the artist’s page at Saatchi)

Well, fair for him. Looks like the recently lost in flesh and body Rauschenberg’s spirit lives on (R. Rauschenberg has died in May, 2008;) and its rebelliously exuberant impact continues to inspire artists of the youngest generation (either consciously or via different mediate sources).

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E. Hundley’s profile opens the new series of “Terra Incognita” on the “Contemporary Art” (artists, painting, movements, tendencies) I hope to keep and develop persistently. By the “Contemporary Art” I mean the art created now – 2009/2008, going back to the first years of the new century, and reaching towards the second decade in various plans/projects. I’ve just realized that one’s responsibility for the proper art studying as well as for the self-development requires the continuous self-updating, deepen recognition and the critical evaluation of the art world as it appears to be here and now. It’s substantially more difficult than, for example, reflecting on ‘closed’ biographies of established artists and artistic phenomena; yet – it tends to be highly rewarding – one can gain some confidence and support for his/her own unresolved riddles and struggles.

As my more loyal, attentive readers may notice; my own artistic practice has been gravitating towards the – Hundley -like expression; it’s encouraging and satisfying to find similar artwork being created, recognised and cherished. One feels stronger in the choices he/she has made. I still remember a sort of horror facing my own work in its monstrous, chaotic appearance. This latest discovery of mine of alike artistic expression (Hundley’s work online) is like an award for all the hardship I’ve endured for this simple reason – to be as honest and brave as I could have afforded.

Art is a majestic, noble force – it forgives and bears everything except boredom and over-timidness of the spirit. And once revolutionary and mastered propositions do come back – it doesn’t have to mean, that no truly new expression is possible or that art is dying out of an excess of its metaphors and epitomes – but that it equals, if not surpasses the great Nature in its eternally self-regenerating, circular and always powerfully creative, life-giving existence…

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Words, Words, Words… Whilt (4)

This chat would my favourite of all for a long time…

– What do you read my Lord? (Polonius)
– Words, Words, Words (Hamlet)
– But what is the matter? (Polonius)
– Between who? (Hamlet)

Being in my teens I would tease my partners in a conversation – ‘words, words, words’ – this is all, what we are saying, we are – in  a fact – making noise using them, they are meaningless… They would look at me like being slapped in the face – they were never ready to accept the provocation and to start to play – but who was to blame, after all? We were and we are being brought up taking the profound purposefulness and logicality of the language perfectly for granted, we talk to communicate – don’t we – why we would bother, otherwise?

But what the Prince it trying to express ? – why does he refuse to make a ‘proper’ dialogue and answer the question as he was expected to do? Most probably, for the same reason he says (after being named a ‘son’ by the murderer of his father): “A more than a kin, and less than kind” referring to Claudius, who – being a stepfather and an uncle is double-related to him, yet – not really his kin or ‘kind’ – words always denote common understanding – hearing ‘uncle’ we are programmed to think ‘kin’, ‘family’ – But, does our understanding of a term really goes with the actual meaning/sense of it that Hamlet could have had, after meeting his father’s ghost? Hamlet knows from his tragic experience, than ‘words’ are only ‘words’ – they are being used like a knife – in a double-sided way – to cut the bread and to kill; their power – both positive and negative – comes from their powerlessness, for their notorious and deep inadequacy to signify the true essence of things continuously agitates the human mind…

Yesterday I bought an ambitious Irish daily newspaper, I tried to find an article, a story, anything worth my time and money – I searched in vain… Words, words, words – ladies and gentlemen… But it could have been worse – they could have  filled in the entire edition with images – equally pseudo-important… Thankfully, the image doesn’t bore, lie and/or deceive that easily, not yet…

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P.S.

To avoid any misunderstanding – I don’t regard bombarding cities in Gaza Strip as a story ‘not worthy’ my time (or money); but one cannot praise the news givers for ‘providing’ the news in themselves, for the human tragedies/attrocities as well as great events  just are and happen, regardless of our ability to grasp them and to convey in a meaningful way… But I do mind multiplying publicly expressesed ‘opinions’, ‘reviews’ etc. which add nothing to the phenomena in themselves, except maybe the authors names and the confusion of all that wishy-washy patronizing talk…


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