Monday, December 1, 2008

woman, man 6: postpostmodernism & spirituality

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman ii, 2008

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman ii (2008, polystyrene on wood)

so let's connect the two running themes (postpostmodernism & man-woman spirituality) for a moment, returning once again to dutch visual artist ralf kwaaknijd. kwaaknijd obviously kicks against the ruling postmodern art structures with this work, which is so small that one must squat to see it properly. (an ironic reference to the in kwaaknijds eyes unpalatable and unimaginative postmodern sculptures which borrow their legitimization purely from their absurdly large size). yet this irony could be construed as postmodern, were it not for the fact that kwaaknijd also carefully chooses his subject, materials and sculptural form. man and woman here are engaged in an abstract entanglement which can be viewed both as dance and as struggle, as embrace and as fight, as opposing and together. made from the same materials and forms, man and woman are -somewhat fiercely perhaps- completely equal, thus shattering any `romantic' but discriminatory notions one sees so often in prepostmodern art. but what about sex?

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman i, 2008

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman i (2008, polystyrene on wood)

in the same man woman series, kwaaknijd comments on the -in his view absurd- role of sex in postmodern art. since postmodernism cuts away `meaning' and `sense' and even `morality', what is left in terms of human motivation? often sex is the answer. largely of course because sex still has some power to shock the general public, making an artist who uses explicit sex somewhat of a controversial figure, which is 3/4 of the thrust of the postmodern establishment. shallow for those who see through this marketing technique, but then again that is a seldom heard minority.

but also because in the absence of any `higher' or `spiritual' values, people really start defining their `realization' in terms of sex.

kwaaknijd's sculpture above tackles these issues rather blatantly, in the familiar abstract sense. looking closely one sees an abstract representation of male and female genitals, engaged in sex. yet once again, male and female parts are made of the same materials and sculptural forms, closely resembling their parallel embryonal genesis (for those of you with a working knowledge of embryology). the reduction of `man woman' to their genitals is both scornful and yet, in its simplicity also defusing. sex is simple, from nature's abstract point of view. there are no higher values in sex, unless we add other values...and for this we need some form of spirituality - a simpler conclusion is: we need some form of spirituality (which is a decidedly unpostmodern view).

kwaaknijd however still uses postmodernist techniques, he exaggerates them, distorts them, but he is still a child of his times. this to me suggests the term postpostmodernism. and i wait impatiently for a truly different ism to shoot up. come, daring fellow artists, whither shall we go?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

meeting on the quai of the stream of subconsciousness

frank waaldijk, meeting on the quai of the stream of subconsciousness -- with passerby walking dog, seagull, trees and cloud of unknowingness

meeting on the quai of the stream of subconsciousness -- with passerby walking dog, seagull, trees and cloud of unknowingness (own work, 2008, 21 x 30 cm, mixed media on paper)

yeah, today's drawing...and don't even have the time to comment on it. sorry. maybe sunday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

woman, man 5 (spirituality, eve & adam continued)

frank waaldijk, park encounter iii

park encounter iii (own work, 2005, 15 x 24 cm, mixed media on paper)

just to keep the blog rolling a bit...i would like to do `a drawing a day' also, but i find that all this internet activity costs an amazing amount of energy, which i frequently don't have.

above a rather shy woman noticing but not really acknowledging each other, although aware that each is aware of the other...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

woman, man 4 (spirituality, eve & adam continued)

frank waaldijk, park encounter iv

park encounter iv (own work, 2008, 20 x 30 cm, mixed media on paper)

well, not to lose the thread on spirituality, man and woman altogether in the storm of (post)postmodernism...

much of the famous art on man & woman seems to center around sexuality (i think i will visit sexuality also specifically, somewhere to come on this blog). but for me `woman & man' is even more reflective of a certain spiritual bond which -especially if humanity would evolve along lines that i deem spiritual progress- could also quite naturally exist between any two given people regardless of sex.

but in my experience it's usually that in the framework of `romantic love', which allows woman and man to come real close to each other, this closeness is acceptable, even sought after. whereas in other frameworks, people shy away.

a detail of the above drawing:

frank waaldijk, park encounter iv (detail)

park encounter iv (detail, own work, 2008, mixed media on paper)

maybe i will find some time to go into this `mixed technique' and subject later on. the thread will be continued.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

postpostmodernism & postmodernism 3: meaning

francis bacon, study for a bullfight no 1 first version

francis bacon, study for a bullfight no 1 first version

perhaps i should start by saying that various sources have confirmed me as being very `postmodern' in my opinions and even in my artwork. this could explain why i compare postmodernism to puberty: i never really got over puberty either, but life goes on anyway. one cannot undo puberty, likewise i feel we cannot undo postmodernism. because postmodernism is just the reflection of a (to me higher/deeper whatever you wish to call it) insight that we have gained in the nature of truth.

to be more precise: we have found out that there is no absolute truth, and that the previous quests for absolute truth have brought countless wars and social disasters. [and also infrequently, somewhere, on the sidelines, some remarkable works of art/literature/philosophy/science/...]

in the visual arts, likewise there is no absolute aesthetics. previous quests for absolute aesthetics have brought countless mediocre works and museums filled with them. [and also infrequently, somewhere, on the sidelines, some remarkable works of art...]

so the resistance, the rebellion, whatever. let's show everybody how relative everything really is. let's deconstruct the ignorant people's preconceived notions of art, let's become societal prophets by creating art that educates society about its postmodern predicament.

but this means a shift in the `meaning' of art. `meaning' is redirected, transposed from the work of art to include the onlookers. and `meaning' can also be: to show these onlookers that there is no absolute meaning. [sorry to be so obscure, can't help it, that's what you get on the meta-level of meaning, and that's the mess postmodernism has justly gotten us into.]

for me, this type of meta-meaning isn't enough. at least, not in the long run. to kick against absolute truth is one thing, but to find personal truths is another. and although the first certainly is useful, imnsho, the second should not suffer from it too long.

so take a moment to consider the above painting by francis bacon. does it not capture a lot of this `relativity of meaning'? it also distorts space, spatial links between event and onlookers, temporal links between bullfight crowds and the second world war,...but what makes it a great painting imnsho is that it is painted in a painstakingly developed personal style, it is a personal painting expressing some personal truth...not meant solely or primarily to educate me about my ignorance on the meaninglessness of meaning...

and then consider francis bacon's second version...where the onlookers have all but vanished...:

francis bacon, study for a bullfight no 1 second version

francis bacon, study for a bullfight no 1 second version

Sunday, November 9, 2008

postpostmodernism and postmodernism 2

mark rothko, magenta black green on orange

mark rothko, magenta, black, green on orange

the wikipedia entry on postpostmodernism suggests (to me) a wide variety of interpretations, most having to do with the idea that postmodernism is somehow past its prime.

what strikes me from my personal perspective is that there are but a handful of artists from the postmodern period whose work really gets to me - to be precise: there are many individual art works that get to me, but they mostly seem to be exceptional in the artists' oeuvre. so i mean artists whose work gets to me more than a few times, work in which something fundamental to me seems to be developed. And then again, are these artists anywhere postmodern in the art-philosophical sense? also, none of them are alive anymore. [of course my knowledge of modern art is rather limited. i look forward to discovering artists which disprove my contention about postmodern art].

of course, for me there is mark rothko. then, for me personally with rather contradicting/conflicting feelings: joseph beuys. also francis bacon, especially when he focuses more on spatiality than on gruesomeness (of which i'm not a fan at all). i'm also intrigued by constant (nieuwenhuys), also especially his more spatial paintings. perhaps i'll think of some more (oh, i wrote something already on chuck close, ok perhaps he should be in this list also...)

to be continued.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

postpostmodernism and postmodernism 1

ok. time to tackle some art philosophy again, just for the fun of it, but perhaps even more because i promise(d) to do so in the subtitle of this blog.

i'm intrigued by the word `postpostmodernism', which sprang in mind easily to describe a certain feeling i have about postmodernism. what i do in such a case of spontaneous word genesis is to google up `postpostmodernism' and to see that -like many similar words- it has been discovered/manufactured by many others. but with google results in the thousands, not tens of thousands, meaning that it's still kind of uncharted. [correction some days later (9 nov): don't know what went wrong, but latest search turned up 19,600 results...with a wikipedia entry post-postmodernism]

in other words, humanity - a very small and insignificant part of it at least- is working to develop some pastures called `postpostmodernism', but it's not sure that they be fertile grounds, where the claims are precisely and where the fences should be. obviously, this has something to do with the pastures called `postmodernism'.

to me postmodernism has always felt as a sort of inevitable crisis, comparable to puberty. Just like puberty, in postmodernism anything goes, and anything is challenged. mostly because `absolute truth' has become `obsolete truth'. somewhere along the line, perhaps also due to the enormous emotional crisis from the second world war, a large enough number of people realized that the concept of `absolute truth' is fallacious. to maintain `absolute truth' one is in fact forced to manufacture and/or swallow untruth after untruth.

more accurate would seem the picture of manifold truth. truth depending on one's point of view. anything goes, and anything is challenged, but...

clay butler, you're standing on my neck (postmodernism)

clay butler, you're standing on my neck

(thank you clay for the kind use of your cartoon).