2016. Acrylic on wood panel, 12 x 16″
Last night Charles Thomson, quiet painter from north London, posted a link to a review in The Sunday Times, in part about a painting exhibition at a millionaire’s mansion of speculative art stuff. You can read it for yourself. Imagine you are a creative humanoid being reviewed by this narcissistic, crafty misanthrope. Or, you can feel the pain empathetically, like I did, for other painters a world away, and cringe at the flippant arrogance aimed at pleasing his equally arrogant, non-creative betters over their morning pastries and tea.
I refuse to sully my good taste and break down his article into counter argument. He is just another art critic who does not make art. A well-oiled bearing in the propaganda machine, to help the sickly skepticism of bloated westerners continue to run smoothly.
However, I will spend an hour this morning relegating his kind to the most loathsome and disgusting monster lair in any creative person’s make-believe world.
What does Waldemar do for a career? He writes about other people’s creativity and path to self-realization. In his most recent content rant for a newspaper seeking print ads from any prostituting organization that pays, he mocked the career choice of some painters because they did not live up to his highly subjective world view of art. Strike one. He searched for the latter confirmation at Saatchi Gallery, sent by a board room of non-painting millionaires to be critical of the aesthetic choices of a non-painting art collecting millionaire. Strike two. And finally (although I wish several more strikes were allowed in this game), Waldemar’s mum and dad raised him to be a sadist. Strike three.
A few rhetorical questions to follow, all with the answer of “no”…
Can a non-painting person ever catch even a chance glimpse into the creative impulses and results of a stranger who paints? Does the latter work a lifetime waiting for the opinion of people whom he or she does not like or love? Can posers like Waldemar reach the freedom of self liberation that all sensitive human beings on earth strive for? And finally, can an unhappy critic love a work of art enough to discontinue a professional life spent in mockery of those who seek freedom through art?
Waldemar is an adult man of the six-year-old child who bullied me in the schoolyard. Every day, Brad Davies would find me before the bell rang, to tell me it was time for my morning punch. Brad was big and scary. I don’t think he had any boxing training—just another nasty, unloved child set up against a kid who appeared weaker because he knew how to be kind. I just wanted to get it over with. And, every time, after keeling over, I felt freed to finish the day any way I liked. Brad was just a nuisance, like a bath or bowel movement, to whatever private adventures my 6 year old day would envelope.
That’s how I feel today about a person who attempts to criticize any effort I make to express my humanity as a 49 year old man. I also should mention that probably because of Brad, and the many other bullies to follow, I became a staunch protector and champion of the underdog. Reading Waldemar’s frightened distrust of painters and especially his wrong knowledge of their painting processes, just turned my visceral anger nodules up to high and hot red.
How about those painters finally getting their chance at dishwasher salary success, eh Waldemar? Would the Times’ subscribers have been better served if instead you championed the lucky painter’s wonderful breakthroughs? As an art critic, surely you must understand the humiliation, both public and private, that is daily suffered by human beings who “put themselves out there”? Waldemar, you of all people would understand this, correct? I mean, with extensive training in art history, you at least got a B in Private Struggle 101, yes?
No. Waldemar is an uncreative bully, a sadist, like little Brad Davies. He probably spent most of his college time in the fraternity practically hazing to death hopeful initiates. I see him snickering to his dumb buddies during the lesson on van Gogh. I suspect, had he the same job in 1880, (as every painter who just finished reading his article now knows), Waldemar himself would have offered a loaded pistol to van Gogh to end his “career” early on, and avoid all that unnecessary suffering.
My wife and I discussed Waldemar’s article earlier this morning. She didn’t want me to be too hard on him. She’s a very pretty woman, and as a young girl most likely did not suffer a daily Brad Davies’ abdominal pain. So, at times like these, over problems she rarely suffers in a workaday world of mutual politeness, I have to educate her on the subjects of art, man-made creation, and of those cowards especially, who seek to undo all that expression has to offer. I do this for her benefit, as well as mine. I have very strong opinions, but unlike Waldemar, I am not a public twit. And, I can admit to all and sundry that I am an artist who doesn’t even like art very much. And as an artist I can promise you, and I’ll stake my “career” success on it, that Waldemar, not only does not like art, but he is determined to punch it in the gut until it dies. His betters, who sell everything from recycled toenail clippers, to highly absorbent paper towels, would not have it any other way. They have an agenda. A world of artists would make for absolutely rotten consumers of the trite and inane. Millionaires of no creativity, and their huge army of inexpressive, deadpan soldiers like Waldemar, subsist to make creative people question their own powers of creation. They keep good people guessing while the sad people buy more useless crap to make the dumb millionaires even richer.
It will end someday when masses of humanity cease to put faith into the print media trolls of planet earth. Fortunately, there are few as insidious as the likes of a Waldemar Januszczak, that it shouldn’t take too much more time.
Finally, the last word, because this is my blog, and I don’t get paid for it.
In that same conversation with my wife this morning, she agreed that even if made to exist in this world as a dishwasher sharing the rent with other dishwashers for a flat on skid row, then I would continue to paint with pigments of hope and desire. Every day. Day after day. To know if Waldemar can be a valuable tool to criticize other people’s private and public joys we must ask ourselves if we think he would continue his craft if he wasn’t getting paid to do so?
Ha! The sadist without encouragement. Brad Davies crying in his pillow.
The art world knows very well that Waldemar is a coward. He would know it too if he dared some day to make his own painting. But he stopped learning a long, long time ago. I am going to take my wife’s advice, and be nice. May the art critic live a long, satisfied, myopic life, and die alone and soon forgotten even by his grandchildren. To the Saatchi painters he criticized for pay on a late autumn day, I give you the following advice and encouragement:
Just keep painting. Because even if you’re a total ass like Waldemar Januszczak, at least the progeny of your line must remember you for as long as it takes plastic or oil to disintegrate.
¡Viva la Stuckism!