Saturday, November 15, 2008

The thing on the right

Now, what's this? I strongly advise the reader here to first have a look at "the thing on the left", which you will find by downscrolling the November box. Done? All right. What we'll do here is follow the usual procedure and try to guess what this thing is by finding out what it's not.

This thing on the right is not one of Jackson Pollock's early paintings. They surely have in common the absence of the mannerisms of "good painting," which gives them both generosity and expressive power. But the vertical directionality down to the weave, distinct from any device of perspective, was the hallmark of Pollock's work, and the thing on the right seems more focused on what John Ruskin called "extended gravity": elements are floating around an invisible midpoint, and their rounded shapes suggests the waltz of celestial bodies.

We may also think about some experimental work of Philip Guston. But the thing on the right is clearly too apolitical for that, and for all its underground figurative imagination, it seems to only gather abstract to capture the germ of an intimate feeling, while Guston's canvas paintings clearly pushed allegory further and never lacked a pictural sense of judgment.

The thing on the right is also reminiscent of Adalbert Trillhaase's "naïve paintings". Same fresh and a-contemporary approach, same attention brought to colors, same apparent clumsiness, in addition to an archaïc dealing of subconscious frames. But in that case, where are the intangible elements that give naïve painting its chloroformic essence? Where are the references about the absence and the presence altogether of an old folk culture?

No. The thing on the right is a painting from twelve-year-old Alice Barnes, currently in Year 10 in a Birmingham college. She showed it to her mum and dad one evening and they said "that's wonderful, darling" and then turned the TV on to watch the local news.

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