An Abundance Of Bland Wooly Abstraction
It’s everywhere, no matter where an art lover might take the time to look. Indefinite, indeterminate, imprecise, inexact, indistinct and above all, impervious to any form of headstrong informed criticism. It is, in fact, beyond scrutiny by the most hardened, politically inept, biased, self-appointed censor: the type of censor who has little knowledge of contemporary art but risen from the depths of artistic inanity over the past ten years or so to put an end to any form of art, that is imbued with any form of subject matter: subject matter that might, on any given day or any given time, offend those in positions of power (in just about every form of contemporary artistic life), who choose to be offended by any art form whose subject matter does not meet with their conservative, stultifying, bland, political, standard.
As a consequence of this late founded contemporary censorship, wooly abstraction (the kind of abstraction that would have been knew and exciting in the 1910's, 20's 30's an 40’s), adorns the walls of gallery after gallery. And not just in the fine art world. Theatre managers, television producers, comedians, writers, poets, musicians and their producers (the list goes on and on), have fallen prey to this censorship and given in to these self-appointed censors of The Arts without the slightest form of rebellion or defence in favour of free speech and expression. I focus on the art world where wooly abstraction is at the point of reigning supreme.
What on earth happened? The answer to that is simple. Just about everyone, in the art world, it would appear, is afraid of being cancelled. Yes, that’s right – ‘cancelled’ – the new buzz word that also reigns supreme across just about every internet platform including Facebook, Instagram or worse still Twitter - whose inhabitant's opinions and political beliefs carry so much influence and weight upon the weak minded, decry and denounce anyone who dares to have an opinion that doesn’t fit a particular political agenda. Those artists whose artworks actually had something to say upon a myriad of subjects, have been dropped like hot potatoes in favour of bland non rescript non-objective twaddle. It is indeed, a truly awful situation.
I read recently that Hannah Gadsby (Australian comedian/performer), said on Twitter when writing about another internationally famous stand-up comedian: ‘We watched it so that you don’t have to’. That is not a verbatim quotation, just part of what she wrote. It is however, particularly sinister in the threat of complete censorship it implies, not only about that particular art form, but about every other area of the arts that might come under her scrutiny. Does Gadsby and those who follow her like lost sheep, think they have the right to say what gets seen or heard in the public domain? Will Gadsby and her lost sheep stoop to employ people from different areas of the arts to stultify any creative voice that doesn’t fall into line with a particular political agenda? Does Gadsby and her lost sheep have any idea how difficult it is to survive in such a precarious profession - the Fine Art profession that is - any idea at all? I would have thought so, given that she made her name doing stand-up comedy with all the risk that profession involves.
Bland wooly abstraction, just like bland stand-up comedy, offends no one, well no one except me it would seem. It contains no particular subject matter that will cause an audience member or gallery director to lose sleep or take to the keyboard. It will match curtains, wall paper and furniture perfectly: cause no distress, political or otherwise, that might in turn raise the ire of the self-appointed righteous zealots who are doing no more than destroying creativity at its heart; that heart being the minds and souls of those who would not be tamed: publicly or otherwise.
As a full-time artist, I have no intention of watering down the subject matter of my narrative artworks to suit the needs of a few ignorant fools who feel they can dictate a bland, cultural future for anyone who dares to venture into any form of artistic cultural life. Here it is then, my despondent prediction: in order to keep the censors at bay, safe art, with safe subject matter, wrapped up in an abstract sea and a spurious title to boot, will adorn the walls of galleries everywhere. Important art that has something to say will stay in hiding – or from time to time, if it does poke its head up anywhere - its brave creator will have to put up with a torrent of abuse from those who would set about killing the creativity of an individual; an individual who by the very nature of their aesthetic realised through their artistic skill, has something important to offer to the world.
I fear that Gadsby and her lost sheep are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak, and are the start of an appalling regime of censorship that will spread and leave the art world (in Australia at least), with nothing but an abundance of bland, wooly, abstraction.
Capitol No1 'He, She, They'