The Charm of the Old

August 7, 2007

When I posted those pictures of the painted walls and murals of the olympic student village in Munich in my other photoblog, that they started to demolish yesterday, I suddenly thought about the question why many painters are helplessly intrigued and charmed by old things – buildings, places, all kinds of objects and even by old people? Honestly – how many painters are out there who paint the xxxth old barn placed somewhere in the landscape? It’s become a cliché and despite that fact never dies as a motif. Some painters even do brilliant and highly emotional paintings about barns.

People in general have still a great affinity for traditional painting instead of abstract modern art, although galleries do not reflect this affinity – at least not in Germany. Why is that? And it is not only the artwise “uneducated” people who rather prefer hanging something traditional in their livingroom but the “connaisseurs” too. You only need to check out the internet for the well known galleries and dealers and what they offer from their stock!

Yesterday I (my work) was turned down by a renown gallery – in a very friendly way – that my work would not fit in because it was not traditional enough. So what does this tell me? It tells me that people rather want to be able to cling to something they know, they can relate a story to or just feel emotionally touched because of their memories.

Old things are full of emotions and stories. They might not be perfect any more with all those scars and bruises but they have a story to tell. Isn’t this something a painter is often looking for – a story?

Some time ago I read in a discussion that ART is not about telling stories. This might be the case for some art – especially modern abstract art. But why are people turned down aggressively when they try to utter a different opinion? Funnily enough new art mediums such as collage fall back on the very same old things (such as vintage photos) which always have a story to tell. The arrogance of the people, who claim to know what “REAL ART” is – especially when they insist on being artists themselves – is often demasking the incompetence of the very same people at the same time.

Yesterday evening I saw a documentation about ART in New York. It was a brilliant docu and completely confirmed what I feel all the time. Rather than concentrating on training skills and achieving experience by learning techniques many artists are mainy interested in the techniques of hyping and making bubbles, supported of course by a bunch of galleries who live very well from the very same bubbles. What is this other than making up stories I ask you? And ART is not about stories? New York it the best proof for it.

I prefer to go back to the real stories, real people and real art. And I will follow the words of one of the curators of the MoMA whom I cannot quote exactly any more but was saying that a true artist should follow his own imagination, not care about what trends are and what is happening around him. Only this way he can be different and unique which is the only recipe for being successful on a long term.

So I will continue to look for the old and bruised, not the shiny and glitzy, not the soulless and empty shells.


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