Friday, 18 February 2011

'Dead Calm' of Jean-Marc Bustamante at Fruitmarket, Edinburgh

It is a surprise that it has taken this long for the UK to have an exhibition of Bustemante's reputation. This exhibition is taking place at Fruitmarket in Edinburgh, until 3rd April and then at Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, Yorkshire. This is a diverse selection of his work, with for me the most interesting works transferred to silkscreen and printed on perspex to explore an atmospheric painterly quality. there are also the architectural sculptures. We in the Abstraktion office are particularly interested in his abstractions..

Jean-Marc Bustamante, Untitled, 2010. Ink on Plexiglas,
150 x 150 cm. Courtesy the artist/Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Abstraction Subversive?

I am currently reading Sean Scully - Resistence and Persistence selected writing published by Merrell

I quote from it: "Someone asked me once if abstraction was subversive. I did not think so. And I don't think so now. It's subversive in the sense that it makes or helps people to think freely. But it's not trying to bring some other structure down to be seen. It makes its own space or has invented its own space. A space that didn't previously exist. This, coincidentally, Morandi did."

The essay can be found on

Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio Morandi, Still Life (Natural Morta) 1953. Oil on canvas, 8 x 15-3/4 inches, Washington DC, The Phillips Collection © Giorgio Morandi by SIAE 2008

Terminology and Semantics Vs Use and Meaning

I know we haven't posted much on art or painting recently and for the dedicated in need of this sustenance I apologise. However following recent conversations and challenges I have become acutely aware of the wider perceptions of abstraction and as a consequence I have noticed adoptions of the word 'abstract' and its derivations or associations with the vocabulary of abstraction. Usage of the word is informed by understanding and this affects how abstraction is consequently perceived and in sequence this defines the concrete.

"This is a familiar line, especially from libertarian economists like Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute, who referred to the trade deficit as an "accounting abstraction" in his recent book defending free trade.
For a start, this is a silly way to characterize anything with a dollar sign in front of it, simply because all numbers in economics are, in some sense, accounting abstractions. Numbers are an abstract measure of things in the real world, including wealth, and the trade deficit is no different. By that standard, being a millionaire is an "accounting abstraction." So is being insolvent. A number on a ledger is not a loaf of bread, a car, or a bar of gold."
The author ends his article "But, of course, as America learned in the recent financial crisis, you can't cheat reality forever. There is no free lunch (one of the few points on which I agree with Milton Friedman), and yes, trade deficits are real money. And I'm happy to bet 1,000 units of accounting abstraction with anyone who believes otherwise."

Peckish? How about lunch? Perhaps Mr Fletcher could bet 1000 units of art abstraction instead.
This is from Ian Fletcher's article 

America's Trade Deficit Is, Too, Real Money in The Huffington Post

November of 2006, Jackson Pollock’s “No.5 1948” sold  for $140 million.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Physics is Dead

"The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object," Mondrian explained; "Therefore the object must be eliminated from the picture." This is quoted in the Boston Globe article by Josh Rothman.  Natural Reality and Abstract Reality .

Monnier - who by day is a theoretical physicist in Switzerland devises an algorithms which make a work. Kitsch, I think but the philosophical point is of interest. 

He claims that his work is pure abstraction. The design of the system is where the expression lies. The process is rational but it is emotionally risk free. The variables are programmed and they directly affect the established aesthetic and in doing so generate a  parody. A borderland phenomenon perhaps? (Open source engineers have a similar blind spot). To quote Sir Michael Berry from his lecture "How one theory can live within another." -  "Words are are inadequate to understand reduction." In this case use your eyes and heart Mr Monnier as I reckon your use of the term purity is questionable. 

Powerful abstractions in response to Gaza Strip attack by Israel Defense Force 2009

John Goto 'Mosaic' exhibition of pixelated abstractions at Edinburgh Printmakers
in Scotland.

For me, this is powerful stuff and it's worth spending time looking at the thinking behind this exhibition. Also, it shows the power abstraction still has as a genre within contemporary art. There is also an accompanying essay on pdf you can download here. They seem very close to Sean Scully's large scale paintings especially his recent 'Wall of Light' works (see recent blog).