THE ART IN OUR TIMES
Due to the weight of the academic style and the “advanced ideas” of romanticism which predominated in the art scene at the end of 19th century, the aesthetic values set by the artists and the philosophers through their works and texts as prototypes, were overthrown from their foundation. At first, due to the pretext of demystification and refusal which was setting free the creators from the aesthetic bonds of the great European past and then, due to a new mythology which lasts up to the current days. Within approximately 110 years of modern art, the new visions, the value and the expressive directness as well as the power of this art, have not become part of the human awareness. They refer to the incomprehensible, the unreasonable, sometimes the improvised, the ugly, the ostensible mentality and coldness of the modern works. They refer to-and not groundlessly- the financial socio-political and cultural situations which prevent or distort the aesthetic education of the citizens, the consuming society, resulting in the alienation of the by virtue receiver, that is the human being of our century from the artistic works of his era. Disastrous contradiction, since the main live art expresses the spirit, the ambitions and the orientations of its era.
It is, however, accepted the fact that the artists accomplish great things once they define the spirit of their era in their work prophetically or by observing it.
How could, however, an artist create important works in an era when as a social entity is indifferent to the contact and spiritual intimacy of the work produced by the artist? I mean the artist who does not copy past patterns and recipes but reforms through his creative imagination both the external and internal world and works out with boldness and originality new expressive methods.
So, in all this vague situation, which lasts so much and the possible improvements and fellow traveling of the artist and the public occurred in some periods but they did not yield in depth and duration, which is the modern artist’s position and probably responsibility? In a lengthy historic course, where the magic-conjuring-religious needs of the art gave its place to the relation: state-church – order – lab with students and assistants-defined topic-work, the entrance of 20th century changed radically the developing course of these relations.
The promoter of the change was based on the independence lived by the modern artists. Yet, this independence of the artist, deriving from the traditional structures and rules of creation, lead through the reversely corresponding procedures to a greater alienation of the artist. Alone and closed in his personal shell, he composes works addressed mainly to himself. Yet, even when he participates actively in forms of art that need the participation of other artists or/and the public, such as the conjectural performance, environment and so on, he dismisses with great difficulty the characterization of the outcast. He acts, in reality, between a few and some, a personal public which has very little relation with the wider public which, in the best situation, is surprised or smiles ironically…
Perhaps, it is more important that the artist would experience his personality in a system oppressive by obvious institutions. The independence lead him to a procedure of inspiration and production of works invented by himself, but unfortunately it did not succeed in relieving him from the intermediaries (art merchants, gallerists, manager, financiers, bureaucrats) not even from the leaders of tendencies and aesthetic ideas who, nowadays, are not creators any more, but the art critics, modern theorists and “enlightened“ gallerists who are the celebrities in art world today.
Thus, the artist, who defends his independence, his free expression, his adamant course for the creation of important art, does not even have fields of choice. Alone he decides the production of the works and many times he stores them since no one ordered them, almost no one sees them, no one of the promoters of the works of art is interested in them. There exist so many who are willing to satisfy everything ordained by the fashion and the marketing.
Logically, this independence should promote the creation of paintings too, according to the structural and aesthetic principles of the painting. However, this independence, apart from a few exemptions, lead us, through irreversibly proportional processes, to the annihilation of the painting and proportionally, the annihilation of the sculpture, engraving and other forms of expression.
According to the philosopher Martin Heidegger, within the artistic work, the truth, which is the revelation of the beings in their existence, is activated.
The creative appearance of a world is the more basic achieved by the artistic work.
Therefore, the conjectural reduction in the Symbol of the artistic work’s essence occurs within the indefinite “incident” of the Truth. Friedrich Nietzsche, however, attributes the birth of the artistic work to the conflict of the Apollonian element with the element of Dionysus and according to Albrecht Durer, the Art is hidden in the nature and it needs to be extracted by the artist. Everyone, in general, agree that the basic element for the reduction in the art’s essence is the Truth. The Truth as an agreement of knowledge with the objects leads to the creation, that is the work of art. We can say that the art is an uninterrupted creation and an event of truth.
The work of art, however, deriving from the metaphysical tendency of the human being for the eternity, activates in his inner shelf the truth and it reveals it symbolically through the “meaning of beauty” which is represented by the conjectural creation.
Another question is, which would be the benefit from an analytical approach of this procedure since the work-result is its objective, as a means of value, unique and independent from the presence of its artist.
Our era has the advantage of sealing with its aesthetic differentiation and its multiplicity, the expression of each kind.
The artistic entity of the conjectural creator but also each artist, has mainly been covered by the plenitude of pretence, imitation and interest that the international as well as the national networks of the art’s projection have, based on the marketing’s demands and not on the search of the real expression, represented by the original artistic creation.
We live in times where the great art has been withdrawn from the human being and its substance is immobilized to the past. The codes of approach have been erased and the required sensibility and spirituality of the receivers are sliding and they are facing the vulgarity, the easiness and the aesthetic confusion. Hegel was the first great thinker who expressed the view that the art is mortal and its destiny is to die. Perhaps his pessimistic view would be the fruit of his idealistic perception; however, it seems that at the end of 20th century, it came saturated and boring, in an anti-aesthetic situation, thus delivering mainly the multiple expression of this decade of every kind to the power of the technique and technology.
Yet, could all these thoughts be inconsiderate ascertainments and by accepting the future optimistically we could see elements of “renaissance” and vitality? Could the defining values exist even under expulsion? Those who still ask questions and defend themselves against the fashion, the consumerism and the ideological desert of the present, which tends to the leveling of the criteria and the pathetic acceptance of the aesthetic effects, they may know the answers and perceive the possible solutions.
We confirm that, in the practical level, not only the artist’s position has no relation with the purported independence; but that his accession in non artistic circuits and bodies (due to the need and the non spiritual factors dominating the market) lead the conjectural expression to possible extinction. We could assimilate the modern artist as a rope-walker who attempts the strangest and the most dangerous tricks. The edges of his rope are invisible, but he progresses by leaps and bounds and fluctuations. If it happens to get crushed (and this happens in occasions) on the land, almost no one regrets him… It is possible that these confirmations seem excessive. Today, the conjectural expositions in museums and galleries are full of people. Great conjectural organizations in all the developed financial centers spread the modern art. Educational foundations, companies and individuals invest on the works of the modern production. Quite a few artists enjoy prosperity and they compete the wealthy. The Mass Media of every kind do a perfect job…Yet, in reality, the modern human being is very little moved by the art of his era, or at least by the art imposed on him by the Mass Media and the merchants, as the art of his era. The confusion and assimilation cover a great spectrum of the searches of the past century and despite the greater spreading of the works of art, through the engraving and other reproductive methods and the approach of the daily human being using the Pop Art, the art even in the first decade of the 21th century, is not lived as a human necessity. It is almost always remaining at the level of decoration or investment on something incomprehensible, but some “ connoisseurs’ give a lot of value.
Is there, therefore, an outlet, regarding all these?
I believe that the possible outlets and answers would come only by the real artists themselves who insist on expressing their soul despite all the adversities.
If the artist’s independence lasted as long as the artists were against the set belief of the tradition, the artist’s preservation into the future would be achieved only if the artists comes to realize that his alienation from the public and the human soul means acceptance of the “ useless’ of the art and its replacement, suggested by the leading figures of the existed and manipulated obscurantism, with the technological founding and effects which already prevail.
It is confirmed that people of the contemporary society search their identity in the universal village of globalization which promises them comfort and communication. The stock exchange materialistic wealth and the technological superpower are galloping with systematic measures of imposition.
The real artist through his work is supposed to resist against the estrangement, the leveling and the insensibility as well as living his personal revolution which, I hope, can still awake the audience.
Costas Evangelatos, artist, poet, performer, art theorist
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