Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ornate Column and Dumpster in Naples with a Definition of Painting

Another 9x12 drawing of a street scene in Naples.   I also made more progress on the painting I started yesterday.

In the Lucien Freud: paintings exhibition catalog Robert Hughes offers a moving definition of painting:

"Painting is a sublime instrument of dissatisfaction, of dissent from any kind of visual orthodoxy and received idea, not excluding those of late modernist mannerism.  No work of art can ever be experienced at first hand by as many people as a network news broadcast or the commercials that grout it.  That does not matter. It never has.  What does count is the energy and persistence with which painting can embrace not 'empty value' but lived experience of the world; give that experience stable form, measure and structure; and so release it, transformed, into one mind at a time, viewer by viewer, so that it can work as (among other things) a critique of the more 'ideological' and generalized claims of mass media.  There is no great work of art, abstract or figurative (and especially none figurative) without an empirical core, a sense that the mind is working on raw material that exists in the world at large, in some degree beyond mere invention.  Painting is, one might say, exactly what mass visual media is not: a way of specific engagement, not of general seduction.  That is its continuing relevance to us.  Everywhere, and at all times, there is a world to be re-formed by the darting subtlety and persistent slowness of the painter's eye.  We are never loose from our bodies and the re-embodiment of our experience of that world -- its delivery from the merely conceptual, the unfelt, the second-hand or the rhetorically transcendent -- is what painting offers."

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