Inspiration is the key!
It’s the 2010s, this is the decade we’re living in. Culture surrounds us and not only do we have a rich heritage from previous decades in terms of works of art, but we are also bombarded with images and videos and sounds from every corner of our lives. What can this produce in the field of arts? I’m sure most of you wondered the same thing as you studied the art movements that succeeded and kept providing opposite responses to one another in the course of the centuries. Often, one feels we live in a non-artistic period, where mass culture overpopularises masterpieces that have established themselves as such, but in the past. Wrong! The thing is, who stops long enough to try and decipher the present? Aren’t we all stuck praising and worshiping the past, when we’re not dreamy enough to loose ourselves in the abstract seduction of possible futures? It’s in the present that we find embryos of a more concrete future, and the birth of a soon-to-be past, once the present is gone.
I have often asked myself why I never come across art critics or simply art inspired articles on newspapers or online magazines about the present state of the visual arts. Where are we at, with visual arts? I have had to go through a bit of research to find an answer, as it was not too obvious to spit out a swift answer.
Stuckism is one of the first names that popped up and probably the most authoritative art movement of our times. “You’re stuck! Stuck! Stuck!” said British artist Tracey Emin to his then boyfriend Billy Childish. It goes hand in hand with its twin-manifesto for Remodernism as both movements promote a return to the values of art, against the nihilism of society and culture that became so prominent with Post-Modernism. The “Stuckist Punk Victorian” exhibition in 2004/2005 shocked and awed and established Stuckism as one of the most prominent art movements in the UK, or so it seems. Basically, it’s a return to Modernism, but with a current twist to it. Photo-Realism has its roots in the 1960s and defines a technique used to create paintings that tend to look like photographs and, based on this premise, Isy Brachot coined the term Hyper-Realism to define his technique, but the term is later used (along with Super-Realism) to define how photography and the visual arts combine; Denis Peterson’s works are the first ones to be labeled as such. To the original picture, painted elements are added and suggest their presence, otherwise unseen and not perceiveable. Another Realism-related term seems to pop up in my research, “Pseudo-Realism”, although it seems to be depicting a negative opinion, which makes me think it is just an overly used term by art critics, rather than an art movement per se. The only artist to use this term in such way seems to be the Bangalore painter Devajyoti Ray.
Of course, other sub-movements exist all over the world, but it’s only the above mentioned trends that seems to have universally made an impression and are certainly bound to end up in Art History books as the most significant movements that took place between the end of the Twentieth and beginning of the Twenty First Century. All of them share a strong trait, that is to go beyond what Post-Modernism and Photo-Realism achieved in their own way: although Stuckism addresses a return to the core of Modernism, one unquestionably perceives a new aura, a sense of research that goes forward, not back. A reinvention, for sure. As for Stuckism, there does not seem to be a specific or recurring theme, and it’s the purpose and meaning behind the painting that makes it ‘stuckist’, whereas Hypper-Realism seems to mainly focus on the human body as a recurring subject.
In conclusion, one can only start to wonder why these art movements are not often mentioned or talked about in culture. It’s almost as if they’re taking place in another universe and are working to be recognised only by future art critics. It is necessary to start wondering more about the status of the arts in present time, so that everyone can learn, enjoy and share the purpose of the arts. In the present!