domingo, outubro 08, 2017

Pictorial Cognition: "The Fantastic World of Paula Rego" at Centro Comercial Colombo



Science is now enabling us to fully define the functions of pictorial cognition. And those defined functions enable us to understand that Rego's paintings have nothing to do with pictorial cognition. And actually, all the science is doing is confirming what many people have understood for quite some time. And which is that fact that "modern" art, and/or abstract non-representational art, is/was nothing more than a great big scam.

Is it right to reduce art to the science of visual perception and little more?

Or maybe I should say, can be so much more because clearly I'm on the pure rationalist side of art interpretation. That's fine, but can we risk missing all the other things that people see, all the other reasons they might have for reacting to a work, the cultural connections, the composition, the colour, the way a piece might relate to the space around it, the narrative etc.?

Do people only "understand" very figurative art that connects directly to their own personal experience? I would say that's extremely limited and fails to explain all the people who enjoy modern art, for example. Is there is role for, say, imagination in the execution or reading of art? That there is no role for fantasy. But ok. There's a lot of people binging their own personal prejudice to the viewing of art. 

I'm just an art dabbler, but some things seem to me pretty straightforward. The function of pictorial cognition, and the "art" of art, is actually the polar opposite of what some people may thing it is, and especially what some of the practitioners may want people to believe it is. Pictorial cognition does NOT reduce art to a science, or even a math, but actually does the opposite. The problem is in misunderstanding the function of the science and math, and how they are applied. Because I have no problem with the intrinsic nature of Rego's paintings, or others like her (abstractionists), but the problem is in attempting to define them as "genius," and the confusion that that misapplication effects. Because the function of pictorial cognition is analogous to pictorial syntax, or just the function of syntax in general. Which is the fact that there exists certain, basic, "structures" that define all functions, and then, as the universal sub-structures are applied, there can be an infinite amount of different variations "formed" through the applied function of the sub-structures.

(Shakespeare's Room by Paula Rego; picture taken by me at the exhibition)

If you're familiar with music, you know that all music contains certain sub-structures, such as notes expanded into chords, etc. So. Imagine that all musicians MUST learn, first, all of the universal sub-structures and then expand upon the sub-structures to become capable of producing the entire range of musical capabilities. Well, there is NOTHING wrong with laying down a few unstructured riffs, or chords, but: BUT, if you are using the word "genius" you are implying that you are headed in this direction:

“Mozart: People make a mistake who think that my art has come easily to me. Nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I have. There is not a famous master whose work I have not studied over and over.”

And, IF you are employing the label "genius," well then you are going to have to learn a hell of a lot of "rules," and then expand upon those universals, to produce the actual "art" of the endeavor, whatever it may be, as in: visual art - music - etc.

Emotion can be explained scientifically. We are making ever greater advances in this direction every day. The brain is nothing more than a bunch of electrical and chemical processes, and so can be studied as an objective phenomenon. A person reacting and responding to art is nothing more than their brain processing visual, and possibly auditory sense-data. Any emotional reaction will follow the visual processing of that data into a mental image. So, yes, science can indeed (at least in principle) fully explain people's responses to art.

I can't think of a living artist more deserving of a museum in her own lifetime. Her work is a beacon of beauty in an art world obsessed with endless novelty for the sake of novelty. Her work is simultaneously dark and beautiful and despite its frequently twisted undercurrent it has never seemed (to me) affected. Just an honest, ongoing search to produce increasingly stronger work. In terms of figurative artists that draw with a narrative obsession, Rego is certainly the match of the late Kitaj. Long may she continue. Rego is light years ahead of the usual hyped dross. An artist's artist - admired for her pictorial intelligence and genuine artistic skills, not for lucratively 'playing the game' like the usual smarmy wasters.

What I didn't like about the exhibition? It was presented in a X structure made of Styrofoam! Centro Colombo shame on you!


NB: Paula Rego is a Portuguese Painter/Visual Artist.

2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

I don't like "art" because it can't be broken down into "bad" or "good". So someone dabbed some paint on some canvas. Whoop de doo da! And I'm supposed to believe some bloke [or blokette, as the occasion calls for] when he starts going off about why this piece is "genius"?

Music I can understand, even appreciate a little. But art? I know it feeds some peoples' souls but it is a complete waste of time, thought, space and energy as far as I'm concerned. I had a friend who got her art degree and she would expound on some of the rules, so at least I know there are supposed to be rules. But from what I can tell, either nobody uses the rules or nobody knows the rules, so what's the point?

Intellectually I know that art is important. But if all those rembrandt and van gogh and "insert artist" paintings, sculptures and what not were all to suddenly be destroyed, I would not shed one tear nor would I feel bad for even one second. Thank goodness I'm not in charge of the world, eh? :-D

Manuel Antão disse...

It all depends on whether one was brought up with Art or not I think. I've always been surrounded by it where I live. Lisbon has been called a "museum" in itself.

Art has always been a voice. Is it a voice at present? If it is it is a dull sounding machine with no drum and only old messages it's not relevant. We are not responding to art that is telling us what is happening in our present times. As always we don't like what art is saying. Art is not just a pretty thing to donne your wall with. That my friend is decoration. Art is communication. Art in galleries has always been what has already happened and has become a pretty picture.

It is difficult, and has been difficult for a century now, to argue that "art" is some transcendent category of truth with an absolute scale of beauty. That granted, surely the whole point of the arts is participative?

Take for instance "The David" statue in Florence. I maintain that 'David' in Florence is just egotistical; it is one of the most meaningless pieces of art imaginable. It is not perfection, a big man without any genitalia to speak of is false modesty from the gauche audacity of a man to whom anything was possible. To think that the other unfinished statues in the Academia may have been sacrificed to the accomplishment of that great mound is regrettable. Many an artist has floundered on producing massive tests of his prowess. I think Father Ted had it when describing to Dermot the difference between 'near and far away', what is the relevance of enormous?