Saturday, 20 November 2010

The end of painting?

I wonder if painting as one of the great cultural movements of the last two thousand years is coming to an end and indeed perhaps has already done so.

I say this for a variety of reasons:

Firstly, following on from Rothko, once paintings had been stripped down to almost just ‘plain white’ is there anywhere left for painting to go in terms of something new? Are we left now with a constant rehash of what has been done before with every single possibility already achieved in the medium?

Secondly, the trend seems to be away from passive consumerism. We live in an interactive world where the Internet is now helping to drive cultural change and revealing that what seemed rare is in fact relatively commonplace. The existence of a wide and more universal talent is now obvious. Musicians, for example, must now realise that the days of copyright and exclusivity are now just about over. More and more people can make good music and are doing so. Diamonds have always been marketed as if they were rare although it is absolutely not the case – perhaps the same applies to musicians and artists. The marketing of a few exclusive people does of course create enormous wealth and perhaps that is what a lot of it has been about. For my own part I download music direct from musicians these days and I have never had such a diverse and interesting music collection. That says rather a lot in itself.

Thirdly, technology is changing just about everything. It is increasing used in art galleries and also allows the opportunity for people to create in a way that was either not possible or just too expensive. Technology is providing empowerment for people to speak with their own voice. It can also be highly participative. Some of my recent photographic exercises have been collaborative with a guy in Canada whom I have never even met.

I have come to this opinion over a period of time. The world is changing more rapidly than perhaps any of us can conceive and perhaps we are witnessing the fall of the Roman Empire all over again – not just in terms of the terminal decline of western economies but an inevitable change of traditional culture and means of expression. No doubt people will continue to paint but I seriously wonder if it is in fact all coming to a gradual or even a quick end before too long.

After a visit to the Tate Modern in London a couple of years ago I left feeling that I had just visited a mausoleum to art rather than a living, breathing entity. I decided there and then that I would no longer visit any of the big galleries and see, yet again, the big names in art. Museums are, well, just museums about history. Important though they are that period of my life is now over. My mind is now turning to new things and the new possibilities reflecting the times in which we live. It is very exciting with so many things now open to me. I may even start making my own music too!

Any thoughts?


San said...

Interesting thoughts. It's true that technology is a kind of leveler for artists of all media.

I love to paint and I make fresh discoveries when I do so. I'm not breaking new cultural ground, so my discoveries are personal and intuitive. For this reason I'm going to keep it up, and it's really fun to know my paintings are being enjoyed in people's homes.

I do look forward to seeing (or hearing) the new projects you embark on, Philip.

paula said...

interesting post...and while i do enjoy seeing my friends paintings (san for instance above commenter) i personally feel like it has all been done. with painting i mean. there isn't anything NEW about it.

maybe you could say that about other forms of art, but i am still seeing tons of mixed media out there that i've never seen before. paint is paint and its always fairly flat and all you can do is hope your image is interesting.

i agree about the mausoleum feeling too...most major art galleries just house the dead. seen it done it been there over and over same people. its important i suppose but i no longer interests me for the most part unless it is some crazy mixed media person or an artist who hasn't been done to death like picasso or van gogh.

i liked your painting. i like many painters work but for me personally i have felt much of what you say.

i wish you well in your endeavor to try something new. i was here awhile ago wondering what have you been doing....

Philip said...

Thanks. Its possible I will return to paint at some stage but I think I would need to find a new context - something that is multi-media based.


Thanks for stopping by. I think the big galleries have given a disproportionate amount of space and pubilicty to a handful of artists and I am not convinced the way they operate is in the best interests of art. There is a seismic shift going on here that the old institutions don't seem to have woken up to. Only my opinion - I could be wrong.

Shea said...

Kind of like Rock is Dead

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