Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Still Life is a "Monument to the inadequacy of language" (yeah, sure...)

Luc Tuyman Still Life, 2002, 11x16 feet


alFrEdo tRifF

At miami.bourbaki, we expose artblicity whenever and wherever we see it.

Dear reader, if you pay a visit to our site for the first time, perhaps we should revisit the term.

Artblicity is basically publicity passing for artspeak to $ell art.

Though publicity and contemporary art are compadres, they avoid each other. Why? Profits belong in this other human science called economy. Art, on the other hand, is this mythical thing you often encounter as epiphanic pseudo theory.

In what follows we'll show artblicity in action. Which brings us to Belgian painter Luc Tuymans (we've covered Luc Tuymans before: here, here, and here).

Tuymans is an artblicity favourite.

Take this sample from the Saatchi Gallery Webpage:
The sheer scale makes the contemplation of this painting almost impossible: a vast canvas representing an absolute nothingness. Luc Tuymans chose the subject of still life precisely because it was utterly unremarkable; a generic ‘brand’ of ‘object’ rendered to immense scale; it is banality expanded to the extreme. The simplicity of Luc Tuymans’s composition alludes to a pure and uninterrupted world order; the ephemeral light, with which the canvas seems to glow, places it as an epic masterpiece of metaphysical and spiritual contemplation. In response to unimaginable horror, Luc Tuymans offers the sublime. A gaping magnitude of impotency, which neither words nor paintings could ever express.
We didn't know who wrote this platitude. Then we found it was used here, and referred to as Saatchi blurb.

Then we located Simon Morley (as it turns, an artist, professor, expert in sublimity)

Morley opens with the assumption that Tuymans delivers "absolute nothingness."

Not just "nothingness" (a knotty Sartrean category, circa 1950s), but an "absolute" one at that.

Suddenly, one can feel the viscosity of hyperbole constraining one's neck muscles.

This "nothingness" happens as a result of "sheer size." Yet, the ratio of the centered still-life arrangement, about 5x8 feet2, is actually quite proportional to the size of the whole piece (11x16 feet2). If Morley takes a literal cue to imply a symbolic result, the painting's ratio between part and whole doesn't deliver his badly needed sorcery.

Then, inexplicably, Morley ventures into divination: Tuymans chooses this subject matter because Still-Life's "utterly unremarkable" standing. Not just "unremarkable" but "utterly" so (notice artblicity's hyperbolic adjectival, adverbial compulsion: 1- "sheer," 2- "absolute," and 3- "utterly," etc).

In an instant, Morley turns Still Life, one of paintings' sturdiest genres, with 24 centuries of history, into a "generic brand of object."

Here comes Morley's epiphanic release (in a mere 58-word paragraph)

* ... expanded to the extreme,
* ... an epic masterpiece,
* ... of metaphysical and spiritual contemplation,
* ... response to imaginable horror,
* ... offers the sublime,
* ... gaping magnitude of impotency,
* ... which neither words nor paintings could ever express,

And after this panegyric, he has the nerve to drop a portent:

Still Life is a monument to the inadequacy of language.

3 comments:

olisan said...

brILliAnt. This does dovetail well with the upcoming publicity of contemporariness... https://www.eventbrite.com/e/commissioner-launch-party-tickets-49677471655

Doug said...

Morley perhaps should have useful a blank page instead of wasting all those otherwise useful words inadequately.

Alfredo Triff said...

hahahaha, you guys...