Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hyperbolic language of a “hype”

There is a certain “style” of thinking about art that gives broad license to exaggerated statements, then building on them wholly unwarranted abstract constructs. Temptation too strong to be curbed of whipping abstract foam of ideas and making ever more delicious connections, finding nonexistent symmetries, crocheting abstract laceworks of supposed content .All such hyperbole is written with innocent,not-so-innocent intent to help the viewer,the reader to “understand” the magnificence and rarified intellectual framework of  the art-piece. In fact, I suspect it leaves the art-piece behind and runs its own theater of ideas with transparent wish to impress, to dazzle and get glory of its own.
To illustrate it one can hardly choose among the vastness of examples, some more comic than others. Here is a painting, greatly revered as a jewel of surpassing brilliance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, entitled rather surprisingly “Garden in Sochi” by Archile Gorky. Surprising because the view does not really show a garden and the author never visited Sochi.

Once you glance at the painting you can just as easily accept any other title,say “Breakfast with Tabasco”. So, the viewer is to understand that the author does not really mean  “garden” or “town of Sochi” and yet the title is very specific! Edward Lucie-Smith elucidates: “these are not the only coded elements to be found in the painting. Its swelling forms are also breasts and buttocks, metaphors for the female body…” There are some crudely oblong shapes there but don’t expect to be rewarded by finding any breasts or good old buttocks there. Lucie-Smith found them and declared that they are “metaphors of feminine body”. I suspect he meant emblematic icons of feminine body since metaphors are something quite else. And now we enter a crazy-room of opposite intentions. The artist made a successful effort at producing haphazard squiggles avoiding perils of figurative art but the commentator still insists on seeing in them a tree, foliage, buttocks and ,lets not forget breasts, town of Sochi and a garden. He writes “The link between the tree and its leaves and the female body is the idea of natural fecundity”.Hocus-pocus,abracadabra and what strongly appeared to be idiotic scribbles gets elevated to significant  expression of “natural fecundity”, unassailable phenomenon and surely preferable to aridity.
If we accept that some clumsy squiggles could contain so much serious content than shouldn’t we also wonder if there is a time, a case when imbecilic squiggles are not imbued with rich meaning but resolutely, firmly remain mindless nonsense? Is the answer here that a knowing eye of an art writer can recognize the greatness and distinguish it from trash done by some uncoordinated moron? I wonder how?

1 comment: