Friday, July 22, 2011


The above painting by Surrealist Rene Magritte, "The Treachery of Images" (o/c 1928-29)  sums up perfectly the problem of talking about art when one's language is not up to the rigors of describing anything beyond the superficialities of surface.  Keep in mind that surface and concept work hand in hand when encountering an artwork that is not merely a reproduction of a previously seen (noticed that I did not say "experienced") moment.  Given that the words included in Magritte's painting are translated from the french as "this is not a pipe" really drive home the artist's expectations from his viewers concerning reality. An inability to confront,  digest,  and speak about a work of art (or almost any phenomena beyond one's comfort zone) seems to beckon a Golden Age of Insipidness,  a 21st century malaise where descriptive language is reduced to words like "awesome" and "cute".  Welcome to the world of those master tacticians of the mundane and the unreal,  the Twitter and Facebook generation.  While I may seem a luddite to some of you out there,  the idea that every moment of one's life should be documented,  every word heard by the world,  and every emotion a request for pity or therapy,  merely reduces life to hollow quotable moments.  The beauty of art is its ability to complicate,  and that really is "The Treachery of Images" to those without the intellectual acuity, patience, or desire to dig beyond the surface. The idea of what is "beautiful" lies with the fact that any worthwhile artistic endeavor must contain the duality (light/dark,  good/bad, rough/smooth, positive/negative, etc.) that comprises everyone's life  and adds  a richness of contrasts.   I must assume that if an image,  sculpture,  or film can be described as "cute" it is probably not art of any sort.  Now that's a good place to begin.

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