Context: the Vag
subject: Monet to Dali
for one the title of the exhibition does not adequately represent the
period that the works in the exhibition encompass. it's lesser known
artist A to lesser known artist B and I can see the pictures in my
mind but I can't remember them.
as soon as i walked into the room busy busy busy everything I knew -
dates, however frailly held in my mind- names of artists- styles- the
only thing I knew was that Impressionism got it's name from
Impression: Sunrise......... everything I knew was gone.
There's a peony, and I'm looking at the peony, and I'm thinking, it
looks like someone cut out a picture of a peony and made this painting
into a diorama.
Oh. Wait a second. That shadow is paint.
i've never seen a better shadow in my life. This shadow was GRAY.
And these artists with their distinctive,
one-track-mind-brilliance.................. oh my god.
i've heard of most of these artists, and seen images of their work--
They had Gustave Courbet in there.
some of these paintings what seems to be one layer of paint one layer
of paint that creates this perfect piece of reality. All of those
paintings; they could not be differently painted from how they were
and yet this one subject has been done by the artist in ELEVEN
I can see why critics of their time wouldn't like them, some of them I
don't like but I'm awestruck by it, I'm awestruck, I can't say a word
I can't even THINK about the process that's going on, I want to cry or
move or dance or something and instead I am quiet and respectful and
stuck listening to these AWFUL pleasant nice older ladies saying,
"Now if you squint at the canvas, see how everything becomes more clear?"
"Oh, that's neat that you thought of that. I wouldn't have thought of that."
And it's a whole painting and each small portion has a detail that
reads as a tree or a blade of grass but the brushstroke's nearest
cousin is a kindergarten scrawl. And these scrawls are clouds! Fuck
careful applications of brushstrokes and fuck paint directly out of
the tube and fuck paint by numbers and people who say "I can't draw"
because honestly, it doesn't matter if you can draw if you can't SEE.
I feel blind.
And I want to stop and stare at all of them but, conflict, I want to
run and see what all they have in there and then- this clear loud
voice says, "Oh, in five minutes there will be a talk." And I want to
listen to this too so I go up to the forth floor and sit still for
half an hour, and by sit still it's careful quiet fidgeting and she's
talking about the pieces I haven't seen quite yet and I want to
run-run-run downstairs and see them and there's a Dali painting and
It's all I can do to sit still because!!! If this pretty, articulate
girl would ONLY stop talking I could see it- its
oil on canvas cracked finished varnished perfectly blended
chrome-oedipus-man-ant black shadow blended brown and teal and paint!
but can you tell there's paint when what you feel is
who dreams that?
what the fuck is wrong with this man and this kind of brilliance?
i feel drab........ inadequate.
And there's more and you know there's an incredible amount of work by
all of these artists that isn't here- it's a travelling exhibition- I
mean there's a WHOLE FUCKING GALLERY of Van Gogh in Amsterdam and it
was hard enough seeing that in only a few hours and harder still to
remember it when you're back from that visually-intensive high.
There's too many peope, there's too much paint, its all so different,
all these different visual VOICES and they all, every single one of
them, want me to look at each single brushstroke and imagine the
layers of paint spaces pencil and ink and thought and process and politics
i can't do it i can't do it and i can't even begin to PAINT like that
but I need to I HAVE to do it the only weapon I have are my
paintbrushes, I ruin them, I fail at painting, I have no voice, I have
no OUTLET, I want my paintings OUT of my house, and i need to move I
need to paint, but I'm shaky right now and frightened and I can't, I
After seeing good painting, it changes the way I look at things and
right now everywhere I look I'm seeing reflected highlights saturated
colours and dark dark hues and negative spaces and subtle shifting
lines and i feel exhilerated, ruined, wrecked, stunned.........
exonerated from any expectations of achieving anything with my art but
I want to punch something because right now
THAT IS ALL I REALLY WANT. (to achieve something intangible, not to
And they had Mondrian there- one of those beautiful simple utopias
I've been affectionate towards since they remind me of my margin
doodlings, with the grid pattern and primary colours like Bic pens-
and i was shocked! it's just a shallow thin surface with the grain
showing through the red paint- and a frail wooden thing 'round it- the
presentation would hardly get one anywhere in contemporary art's
Clean-cut Glass Hook and Eye Mounted Presentation Is Everything. But
it must, I mean, it's Mondrien and it's in a glass case now, but it
looks so quick-and-dirty. In my mind it was MADE of glass. I knew it
wasn't, but one can't help the subconcious.
If I had to go to work right now I would provide the worst customer
service because I honestly cannot think past my sockets right now and
i'm gonna paint, i'm gonna try, because that's what i DO, but
beyond the SHEER VISUAL ADDICTION, there is more to subject matter
than just paint and I want to think about that but it's almost hard to
get over that too.......