Sunday, May 27, 2007

Preoccupation or prejudice? (Paris me manque.)

26 May 2007

Before I post my notes from last Monday – a few regarding this evening. There’s really not much to report – or is that just me? That is my preoccupation of the moment. At what point does boredom or rigid (are they really?) standards of quality or originality, or dissatisfactions based on other contextual criteria become – well….a bit too personal? In other words, at what point do personal dissatisfactions merely indicate personal prejudice? (Am I second-guessing myself? Gee – like this is the first time? Yeah, a little, I guess.) Two people (both artists) prompt my self-examination – I’ll call them Justin and Penny. I run into Justin first – just back from an amazing tour of Beijing and Shanghai with a focus on contemporary architecture (his wife, Andrea, who isn’t here is this brilliant architect/designer and one of my favorite people in the art world). I don’t know if it’s me picking up his vibe or him picking up mine – but I immediately start picking his brain about the work in front of us in slightly less (or more) than dispassionate terms. Okay – can I just say it? I said it to him – so I’ll just say it now. I’m feeling very over with the Leipzig school of painting. It all just seems so coy and calculated – and at this point soooo beyond shallow, I could faint dead away standing in front of one of them. (I don’t even bother to take notes.) Is it too much to ask for a fresh idea? A stroke of brush or pencil laid down without the art world equivalent of a focus group or opinion poll?

I’m willing to concede it might just be me. Yes – it may simply be personal prejudice (or more accurately, I think, just exhaustion or boredom). First of all, the painter I’m talking about actually isn’t Leipzig school (though he’s clearly influenced by them). I’m sort of feeling this need to course-correct even before I fly out and stop at the front counter to get some background. I end up reading everything on the counter; but remain less than persuaded. The prices are a little on the high side (although more than half a dozen are already sold), I think – but maybe it’s just the weak dollar. I can get very cynical about these things. Penny joins me at the counter. She and her husband (Michael – also an artist) have already looked at the show and are starting to regroup for an exit. But then Michael disappears and she follows me in a quick walk-through of the next couple of galleries.

I’m ready to make my exit with them and call it a night by the time we’re in the last gallery. But I get a better look at one of the drawings and move on to the next and the next – and find myself absorbed. Penny is suddenly behind me again, and she asks me, “Do you think he has a science background?” “Could be, “ I say. “It never hurts.” Then she says – as if figuring out my fascination, identifying my preferences (and prejudices?) – “Oh that’s right, you like drawing.” It’s true: I do like drawing. It tends to be closer to the ideas. There’s a bit more transparency to the thought process. It’s faster (sometimes), more spontaneous (mostly). There’s a different and very welcome energy that comes off it; also wit, charm; the accidents of the moment that may be left ‘uncorrected,’ like phantom notes, marginalia. It’s more direct, intimate. (Boy am I getting defensive.)

I’ll just leave it at that for the moment. I’m feeling a little bummed. An incident just this side of ugly closed the evening (no fault of Penny’s of course). It probably has as much to do with general media reconnaissance for the week – and all the horrific news I have to read or re-read. Am I the only one who was struck by the tenor of the President’s last news conference? He is a raving madman. And the utter absurdity of the commencement addresses given by both Bush (Coast Guard Academy) and Cheney (West Point(!! – whose decision was that?? The graduating lieutenants are dropping out of the Army at a staggering rate – almost entirely because of Iraq.) whose recycled lies were essentially reported directly, unfiltered – with nothing to note the fact that there was almost nothing factual in their remarks. And – not that the Democratic party is anything more than the center or slightly left-of center wing of the Republican Party – but I’m wondering if we can put down Tuesday the 22nd as the official end of the Democratic Party. It’s easy to see someone like Pelosi caving; but I never thought Rahm Emanuel was that much of a wimp. They’re both despicable.

I’ll give the mainstream media a bit of credit – though of course too little, too late. The coverage – especially in the vivid photography that increasingly appears even on the front pages of the Times – is a bit more straightforward (and grisly). The photograph of the wounded soldier that appeared on Wednesday’s front page was horrifying. When is the White House going to be held to account for its staggering crimes against humanity?

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who blew off the LACE auction. And I heard from people who did go that the buffet offered after the bidding was completely bolloxed with people left standing in line for an eternity for their hors d’oeuvres or whatever. What the hell happened?

I considered a French film to cheer myself up a bit (I kept running into people about to fly off to one part of France or another); but the timing just wasn’t right and I headed home. Truth be told I was probably sufficiently buoyed by those drawings (by Daniel Zeller – at Dan Weinberg). They were exquisite.

No comments: