When I was young, I used to watch “Lost in Space”, a science-fiction show I mostly remember for the abrupt way it ended, on a cliffhanger. The space travellers are literally “swallowed up” by the earth: the ground caves in and all members of the expedition disappear without a trace. We never saw what happened next, at least not on our screens, which is why to this day, I still don’t know what happened to the people. The broadcaster probably didn’t buy the next season, but the scene remains with me as an unusual metaphor, forever lodged in my brain because of its incompleteness.Traditional art concepts presuppose a direct relationship between colour, the canvas, and the artist’s subjectivity as the sole intermediary. The artist has direct access to the canvas, while the elements underpinning the painting are present directly, without an intermediary. This type of painting, characterised as a spontaneous act, was prevalent during the first half of the 20th century, up until the advent of Art Informel in the 1950s and 1960s. From then on, we could follow the development of direct painting, which considered its own origins, whether it was the picture-world of mass media or the history of art. The reaction of painting to the media appearance of photography and video nevertheless still transpired within representation. The advent of the wild and violent painting of the Transavantgarde and neo-expressionism of the 1980s signified a regression to an illusion of spontaneity, back from the already established positions of modern and modernist painting. The 1990s saw the re-establishment of the link with the already achieved positions of art complexity, especially regarding questions related to opposing the representation horizon at the expense of critical research. The paintings of this period were not a reaction to the ever present image-making of mass media or the history of art, as communicated by the media (the press, for example), but rather an attempt at overcoming these influences in the act of painting itself. The paintings from this period no longer studied nature, as they did in the 19th century, but rather explored the world, as is conveyed to us, reflecting the technologically-altered environment ruled by abstract codes and the effects of mass media. The technical picture-world is presupposed as second nature, and painting, once more, is claimed as a convincing individual activity in the midst of an anonymous display of public pictures. Significantly, this is a development brought about by entering the pictorial world of the media, not by rejecting or negating it. Since the technical media, in their function as storehouses, reproduce art history everywhere and at all times, the history of art itself becomes a kind of second nature, to contextualise the
The author’s precise thoughts offered up an explanation to another crossroads in modern-age painting, which all too often considered painting to have reached the edge of its existence and as being on the cusp of transforming into something else. This has been claimed several times during the past one hundred or so years, only for artistic fantasy to find a new way, reforming the position of painting and building it up anew.
I have encountered this on several occasions – from looking at a painting as a specific constellation of basic elements to the symbolic function, the reorganisation of the reproduction of a conventional image in a new way, sometimes by using computer processing and treatment; then there’s experimenting with images, something I’m doing now (for example as part of the exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art at the start of this year and in the Bežigrad Gallery this summer – every time differently, but as a continuum). I am slowly approaching a new reality in painting, but the path there is still murky. The exhibition at GalerijaGallery is supposed to further deepen this “new reality” and permeate the “hear and now”.
- Bojan Gorenec
*Peter Weibel: Contemporary Painting in Context, iz Pittura/Immedia: Painting in the Nineties between Mediated Visuality and Visuality in Context, IV (Painting, Media, Immedia), p. 57–64.