I’m really pleased to say that my dissertation has finally been handed in and I can move on and think about my studio practice properly. Sadly the final weeks of the dissertation have been a bit of an anti-climax as other more important events happened that overshadowed it.
Whilst researching and writing my dissertation I have really been thinking about what is actually possible within contemporary painting practice today and exactly what its current climate is. Painting is not and never will be dead but it has arguably stopped evolving and has probably reached a kind of plateaux where it will never have the impact it did during modernism. This in itself is not a bad thing but it does mean that one should approach their work with this in mind. It’s no good trying to chase some new aesthetic that is going to amaze people as it probably does not exist anymore. However, there is still good and bad painting to be made and I think the goal of any painter today should be to make good painting that hopefully portrays some kind of individual language.
There are an awful lot of painters today who are happy to look back over years of painting and take what they want and work with it. They are not necessarily looking for a new thing, just trying to do something good.
I have also become more aware of how institutes, galleries and theorists need to pin context on everything nowadays to justify its existence. My dissertation was inspired by the recent "forever now" exhibition at MoMA New York. The context of this exhibition of contemporary abstract painting was that painters today are actively embracing a supposed atemporal age brought about by widespread internet use. The extent of influence the internet has really had on the artists in question was not really proven, only suggested and I can see that this could never really be proved one way or another. Institutes like the MoMA are not able to simply put on an exhibition of any kind of contemporary art without some sort of context to pin to it regardless of whether it is true or not.
I suppose that this is a kind of necessary bullshit we have to deal with nowadays and in fact we all have to take part in it when it comes to talking about our work if we want people to see it. There are very few artists out there who can truly make and show work on their own terms. Even household names like Ai Wei Wei have to justify what they do to some extent. I can only really think of Howard Hodgkin as a "known" artist who does not justify his work, it’s out there and you choose to accept it or not.