David Hammons & anti art.

A collection of low cost materials I amalgamated to explore an idea. Trash art if Denis hypothesis is followed can still exhibit a concrete aesthetic certainty.

A natural progression for me was to look at artists that were equally struggling with the mediums they use to express their ideas. In the early phase of one's project there is always this wondering about what medium might be most suitable to convey a perspective or idea. The natural response for me is to how to work across various mediums and take the bits I enjoy from each and try to establish a coherent framework from this.

After the Schwitters exhibition I became more interested in art that was predominantly materially un complex in the sense that the materials might somehow carry the emotionally confused content of the work and support my efforts to escape traditional boundaries often imposed by the medium or material. I felt if one revealed the underlying corporeality of a materials structure there might equally be a revelation of some truth lurking in my own unconscious.

In this piece I was trying to express the decaying or diseased eye and connect that to both a painterly approach as well as a conceptual sculptural one. The black painting underneath is hidden by the burnt and heated plastic leaving a surface of disfigured colour covering a partial black eye and pupil. The black painting is influenced by Robert Motherwell's paintings and I have linked this in with the artist David Hammons series of works that covered abstract canvases with large sheets of plastic as a comment upon contemporary art and abstraction in particular.

The outer red stick reflects the inner red line on the canvas which questions the idea of sculpture and painting again and where the boundary might be. The white diagonals express an idea of instructive possibly prohibitive signage and as such a material world beyond the art space. The piece starts out as a reflective piece on sight and seeing and at the same time works its way into a wider discussion of art itself.

This all takes place via found materials and a reduction to pure very basic elements. I wanted to create a piece that was inspired further by Schwitters reuse of materials but also placed itself into a situation of debate regarding current thinking on 'trash or anti art'. David Hanmmons is a strong case in point as he rejects the art space and abandons any idea of art that costs too much. His prerogative is everything must be as cheap as possible but he doesn't abandon aesthetics as he sees it. I thought Hammons was an interesting update upon Schwitters although I see no connection at all in the work but rather more in the idea of necessity.

Hammons associates art with the street and sees the gallery as something that reflects a political and economic hierarchy and thus his work sets out to exist in the opposite space that challenges the idea of just how far one might go before art disintegrates. He famously stood outside a gallery selling snowballs one winter. He isn't an enfant terrible but rather someone who as an African American makes the art establishment confused as to how to view his work. It is clear there is much less opportunity for back Americans so his colour and works on slavey and the black mans role in America when intelligently presented make it difficult for the art world to ignore. After 40 years as an artist and now a successful one he still has no gallery representation.

The problem with Hammons today of course is that his work is in major collections and he is a sought after artist who now plays the role of the anti artist. Whilst Hammons was poor and unknown his ideas seemed more relevant but now they have the sense of the trickster about them which of course may not be Hammons fault but more to do with the idea of no one gets out of art alive. Whatever your objections, pretensions, ideas or approach art will find a way to ether ignore or consume it. If you are ignored you are not part of the debate and the work for all its inventiveness from the artists subjective perspective exists alone. If the work is consumed then it risks becoming a style and being neutered but it also then offers the artist potential financial reward which carries another risk to creative endeavour.

The student of course can learn from artists that explore the periphery of traditional thought. They can learn to address their own ideas more comprehensively by questioning more closely not just the intention behind the work but also how that reflects back into material choice and their own psychological approaches to risk and cost. Trash art seems one solution to the difficult economic circumstances artists encounter but keeping in mind Denis, Sylvester would remind us is the key to avoiding a totally chaotic non aesthetic.

To further emphasise Hammons connection to my early posts he states ' the art audience is the worst audience in the world. It is overly educated, it is conservative, it is out to criticise not to understand and it never has any fun. Why should I spend my time playing to that audience?' This is clearly an echo of Sontag and the obsession with content and the artists need to defend their position, which she identified as a remnant of Greek thinking that still permeates the art space.

 

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