Personal musings about art, life, God and the world.

some articles are written in german

15 / feb / 2021

a traditional mindset in the contemporary art world

The more I learn about Orthodox Art Theory the more I tend to agree with it and reject the current (modern, post-modern) one.

It may be that my own inner insecurities, my lostness, my inertia, my resentment and frustration feed my will to criticize the current understanding of art and the artist.

It may also be that my resentment is a result of not only my biography but of the detrimental effect the current understanding of art has on its participants and recipients. After all, it is a truism that deconstruction and confusion have a negative effect on people’s state of mind (which is justified and downplayed as „stepping outside of your comfort zone“ or „being open-minded“ and „not prude“). Loss of grounding can lead to depression.

Art in the traditional view is something that grounds both the product and the maker as well as the community in a cohesive cultural and metaphysical structure. Art in a traditional sense is the very thing that protects agains confusion and depression.

Art today is ultimately feeding confusion because it is based in subjectivity, individualism and relativism. These are perpetuated by the rules of the art market with its need for the New, the Big, the Quick, the Powerfull (or the Influencial).

Before art had the imperative of comprehensiveness in service of a unifying collective narrative. If the art work conveys meaning that is intuitively understood by the community and is useful in their lives, it is a good piece of art.

Today art seems to have the imperative of mystification for the sake of mystification, but more accurately it is mystification for the sake of intellectual entertainment by means of mystification.
If the work is comprehensive, if it has unifying meaning beyond the elitist art discourse, it is a bad piece of art. If it confuses, irritates, shocks traditional views and if it satiates the appetite for a peculiar form of entertainment, it is a good piece of art. Now this does not dismantle or expose today’s art as fraudulent, on the contrary, art today plays the role of manifesting the narrative, the soul, the highest values of a culture, just as it did in traditional societies.

So what does today’s art tell us about the culture we live in today?

And what is the role of the artist?

Even if the art work is accurately depicting the dilemma or even criticizing it, it is still based in subjectivism, individualism, relativism. The art work reflects that the artist is embedded in a nihilistic culture, and although the art work is trying to get out of it by its critical stance, it can only succeed if it can offer an unifying collective meaning that is lifting the spirit of a community up towards a shared ideal. Onother problem is the atomization of people and the break down communities and shared higher values.

So maybe the best an embedded artist can do, is to use the individual story to hint at a collective one. The following generations will have to work on the next steps.


10 / june / 2020

"true art", illustration and manifestation
from inside the contemporary art paradigm

The term „illustrative“ is typically used to degrade an artwork that wished to be „true“ art.
Some artist have tried to argue against this judgement and bridge the gap between art and illustration.
In the US those two realms are more closely linked and often taught at the same institutions.
Hence those artist have a different perspective on this matter.
However the international art market generally remains unsympathetic towards illustration, with some exceptions.

„True“ art refers to productions that are accepted in the discourse of the art word and the art market, they are not illustration. „True“ art means „pure“ manifestations of more than just the artist’s ideas, it’s their genius, the unconscious, the intuition, which is of a higher status and value.

The artwork is indeed a manifestation of the artist’s ideas, further than that, it is a manifestation of the artist’s being. But this is true for all creation, even for all action in general. Fundamentally manifestation is the joinging of Heaven and Earth in a symbolic understanding. On a side-note, manifestation of the material and non-material might be called emergence.

Therefor the artwork is not only a manifestation of the artist’s ideas, but equally and most fundamentally a manifestation of his bodily actions.
So an illustration is also an manifestation.
And since both are manifest, the criteria of manifestation is obsolete.

However I think that every work of visual art (maybe even non-visual art) is both, and manifestation and an illustration.

To illustrate, etymologically, means to illuminate, to shine a light on something.
This also applies to „true“ art, no one would object to that.
Why has illustration a negative meaning compared to art?
„Illustrative“ gets its negative connotation from its function in the creative field.
Illustration (as a genre in the artistic crafts) is the making of an image that refers to a preexisting text.
So when an artwork is called illustrative, it simply means it is describing a text, it is literal.

This means, „true“ art is not literal, there is no text, the artwork „speaks“ for itself.
Is there really no text? Let’s take a broader view.

We are embedded in a narrative: day, night, life death, beginning, end.
So we perceive the word through a narrative structure. through it we make sense of the world.
The narrative is immanent to human life.
Every representational depiction refers to human life, so the narrative is implicit in every representational depiction.
Language is a tool to abstract and express the narrative. language is a precondition for text.
Every representational depiction refers to this implied narrative.
A figure, landscape, still life, all imply a passing of time, a before and after, a possible human interaction with the subject depicted. we imagine a moment in a story.
Therefor every representational depiction is an illustration.
The narrative is implicit.

What about non-representational /abstract art?

The basis for any non-rep artwork is the idea.
The idea is the text.
The text exists even if it is not spoken or written down.
The non-rep artwork refers as well to a text.
It is therefore also an illustration. but there is something different about the text.

The difference between the representational and the non-representational is:
The text of the non-representational artwork has no narrative.
The text is descriptive. it is a scientific text. it is like a manual.

Indeed I think that every representational art is literal, because it describes the visible word, it show that which it is supposed to be.

Gerhard Richter said once (paraphrased):
Any image that is understandable is a bad image.