Tomorrow night the Russian Stuckists, the marvelous troop of Tuesday night painters, intrepid makers of two-dimensional eye candy, thinkers and doers maneuvering inside/outside the modern woe-box, saviors of Moscow and New York, deliverers of hope, sustenance, and joy to the alive mind, open an exhibition of their recent work and inspiration at a city pancake cafe. A Night of Dreadful Paintings. On Halloween! Wine and freedom, tingling fingertips… Running up to Alexey Stepanov’s flat with brushes and colors and wet leaves on the stairs. Anticipating the model and the night, feeling this:
All night long they will pose publicly with the private knowledge that their painting is a life treasure, a fecund high that if revealed too openly, might cause a wave of mass enthusiasm to drown their individuality. Almost as if it were better to keep the secret to themselves. If too many catch on, to make the art of painting ubiquitous like jogging or taking out the garbage, then it was all for naught, there was nothing special in achieving the high art that is at least more lasting than a single human life.
I tell Alexey, and I hope he informs his friends, that I watch their gatherings with hungry eyes and aroused humility. Is there anything like this happening in the U.S. among the young and talented? They had a September show in the forest. Mulled wine, guitar, and I would hope in my dreams at least, much better conversation than “N.Y. Times—who’s great—let’s see—cause I’m great —look at me!” I am certain they talk of philosophy, culture, music, love, future. What everyone on earth alive wants to talk about, to be sure. But show me this enthusiasm, and group effort coming out of Brooklyn. I visit a painter’s blog calling itself Painter’s Table, but all I get is another look at a tremendously lonely, self-absorbed Brooklyn or Connecticut painter, touted (or is it tortured?) by another white-walled gallery. The image is nice, yes, but will it make us money? Every painter knows very well, without the helpful instruction of finance, if he or she is going to Hell. Quick now, another picture while I digress:
Can artists in America sustain culture? Where are we going? What are we doing? What the hell is a “career artist”? The media mind is taking over. Listen here painters of America… You are not free and you are alone. Not one neighbor is moved by your presence. In fact, most would be openly hostile if their food bowls were not spilling over with high fructose Shepherd Faireys, Jeff Koonseys, Andy Goldsworthys, and the like. Some tried and true art catch phrase to hold the people’s little psychosis’ in check while the next state-of-the-art gew-gaw is pressed on their faces. The media has made up its mind. It will remain at war with reality. It mocks your life while luring humanity to crave its sugar-coffee-new thing high.
I couldn’t say if the Russian Stuckists feel this way. Whether they would agree or not, I know all sensitive peoples have their seasons in Hell. The practice of painting helps me with my push and pull out of private doom. Nietzsche wrote “All joys want eternity”. The more I paint, the closer I come to what I believe the generation in the photo possesses already—the eternal—and I pray they have the sense to carry on no matter what life throws at them. Which episode of “Sons of Anarchy” reminds us of our shared humanity? What smartphone app is glorifying the joy of man’s desiring?
More photos for your dreaming. Wish them luck. They are a high step above your concept of art, New York City. And climbing.