Unreal Nature

May 1, 2017

It Has to Be the Real Thing

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:38 am

… leaving a city on foot is almost unimaginable (although completely possible).

This is from Richard Wentworth’s chapter in Akademie X: Lessons in Art + Life (2015):

The working circumstances of the young are absolutely everything: who you get to meet, what is available to you and what the weather is like in whichever human group you find yourself assembling. An accident of history meant that I met Germans, Poles and French people, many of them Jewish, and this was exactly the kind of inside-outism that this young English person, unknowingly, sought. But I would have been as happy to have met Simon Rodia when constructing the Watts Towers or Catalan artisans setting out Parque Güell for Antoni Gaudi, and to have fallen into conversational step with them.

Finding suits artists better than seeking, and many are not studious but develop ways to pursue their lines of curiosity. I like a coincidence per day, a sort of emotional per diem. It has to be the real thing.

… The self-consciousness of art, as it is presently served up and distributed, doesn’t always hold my attention. I am not interested in deliberate rule-breaking, but in the increments and Chinese whispers (otherwise known as the telephone game) that shift the world on its axis. Misunderstanding is a good tool, as long as there is confidence and impetus to propel it.

… On a walk recently with some students whom I barely knew, we found ourselves leaving Zürich on foot. For a Londoner, leaving a city on foot is almost unimaginable (although completely possible). As we walked along the highway, we came upon an elaborate and beautifully engineered knot of overpasses in the autumn dusk. The combination of the Swiss delight in graphics, executed in a perfect emulsion, with their engineering skills and sense of precision gave me, the visitor, a feeling of walking through well-made calligraphy.

… Picasso’s painted bronze Glass of Absinthe (1914) has always captivated me. I’m particularly drawn to its ‘cobbler’ cubism — that feeling of having been bashed about on a kitchen table. Glass of Absinthe, made at around the time of the first flight and the first films, adopts a trajectory that takes you away from Cézanne. Its muddled, modelled and assembled nature, unified by casting but then disturbed by different kinds of painted surface, makes it as magnetic as the Willendof Venus.

Glass of Absinthe

As I’m writing this, I realize that inquisitive artists break rules while they’re working. Sometimes this is out of ignorance, sometimes because they have to make a shortcut. It can be a deadline for a show or that late-night emergency of running out of some material or color, or the need to pack up. I like that tension and the way it can be provocative. It has to be the real thing. I’ve always imagined Pollock taking a telephone call while stirring a can of paint and then turning back to see the consequences on the canvas. Peripheral vision is incredibly precious and needs to be grown and cleverly harvested.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




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