Tuesday, June 27, 2006

a polite response to a polite response

When I said I found stuckism irritating and boring yesterday I suppose I should have expected that Charles Thomson would track the link back and comment. I was flattered he found the time to respond, and indeed to provide a link here from the Stuckist website for anyone interested in seeing me ‘have a go’ at them, so I did him the courtesy of going over to his website and checking out again what I thought I knew. A couple of things occurred to me.

- Stuckism is quite funny a lot of the time, and I like that. There’s not enough funny around as a rule.

- The much-vaunted ‘communication’ in Stuckist paintings seems often to mean communicating how perplexing women seem with their tops off (Charles Thomson excepted entirely from this observation). Either that, or the thunbnails chosen are not statistically representative and were chosen for another reason.

- Charles Thomson’s paintings are bright and smart and clean. He is very insistent that they are nothing to do at all with pop art, which he believes is soulless. I suppose I believe that he believes this, but it’s a bit difficult to look at the paintings and not think of ‘Yellow Submarine’.

- Whilst agreeing that lots of minimalist or ‘post modern’ art is a little bloodless, I don’t find that any more or less irrefutable an aesthetic judgement than that most Stuckist art is technically mediocre. Which is to say: both of these opinions do tell you something about the art, but not anything very interesting.

- Mr Thomson objects to being called ‘embittered’. I think if I’d had the dispiriting experience he describes having had at art college I’d have been a bit bitter as well. Although I think I’d have got over it by now. (Actually I can hold a grudge effectively forever, so, maybe I wouldn’t)

- I pretty much stick by what I said about spirituality. I was not surprised to find Mr Thomson refer to himself as a student of the Kabbalah.

- There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on that seems aggressively unpleasant in Stuckism. It’s only a whiff, but it’s there. Being a small-ish group of like-minded artists who feel they have something in common and put on shows of each other’s work – fine. The odd manifesto – we’ve all done it (although not since I was 20). But this constant barracking and insulting other artists who plainly don’t give a shit is unattractive and boring and slightly creepy. If, as Dan’s jacket says, painting pictures is what matters, then what’s all this other stuff?

- The issue of Michael Dickinson seems pretty clear cut though, eh folks? Write to your MP then.

Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about poetry so that's it as regards stuckism. Comments box is fine, but I'm going to try and keep it to poetry up here. I'm getting mission creep. Or it could just be these trousers.

That's the way with groups and 'movements': they are as exclusive in relation to other ideological stances as they are inclusive of those who associate themselves with the various ideas on offer.

It's the same with collectives.

Like most people brought up under the C of E I've no problem with people talking about spirituality when they actually mean they're investigating their relationship with their culture and environment with politics in the background. That seems to be a fairly sane way to balance the sometimes hard political extremes of self and culture.

I do have a problem when spirituality is set against society, as it were an explosive device set to disintegrate the thing the rest of us mistake for reality.

I don't think painting matters as much as some other things, so Stuckism doesn't really bother me either way. I think of Stuckism much as I thought of Crass Records in the early 80s: it's a shame people with a point and attractive artefacts on offer have to position themselves at all in relation to a market they supposedly despise.
That's me told then! See you on yr birthday old chap!
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