ESSAYS

A Conversation Overheard

This discussion about art in an internet chatroom was brought to my attention and I found it quite thought-provoking.

I've edited it, removing personal details and changing the monikers of the participants.
Francium        Hey I'm pretty new to painting. I don't go to art college so I was wondering where do you guys go to find new, good artists?
Pollonium Hey Francium, the following Irish artists are doing interesting work here – and in no particular order:

Sean Scully
Hughie O’Donoghue
Alice Maher
Robert Ballagh
Charles Tyrrell
Patrick Hall
Dermot Seymour
Dorothy Cross
Patrick Scott
Isabel Nolan
Corban Walker
Sam Sprout
Willie Doherty
Michael Warren
Mannix Flynn
Felim Egan
James Coleman
Jaki Irvine
Basil Blackshaw
Ciaran Lennon
Brian Maguire
Stephen McKenna
Michael Mulcahy
Mick O’Dea
Art Paddy
Nigel Rolfe
John Shinnors
John Noel Smith
Donald Teskey
Sean McSweeney
Brian Bourke
Barry Cooke
John The Painter

However, only a handful of these artists have an international profile. Most of them are painters. What does that say about current trends in the arts? The art world is dominated by top guns Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Matthew Barney and the like – mostly purveyors of conceptual art, good businessmen and brilliant self-publicists. So what should Irish artists do? Where’s the debate? Let’s get the discussion going.

P.S.; After the Momart warehouse fire in May 2004, where the casualties included Tracey Emin’s tent and the Chapman brothers’ Hell, the artist Sebastian Horsley voiced the common reaction, though in rather less guarded terms than most:

“My only regret is that the artists themselves weren’t on the funeral pyre. That would have been really great…The artists play the well-remunerated role of court dwarfs…Why have they let it happen to them? Saatchi, Jopling, Turner prizes – these prizes are for turn-coats, cardboard outlaws who go on bended knee for an award from a society they profess to despise. What has happened to defiance? Why have the punk generation become so tamed, so emasculated, shaking hands with the royalty of the art-world and moving in circles that their work is supposed to scorn?”

Strontium I'd imagine there are a lot more practising artists. However, I still think that's a lot of artists for such a small country as Ireland. It's the quality of work that matters, not the quantity. Life sometimes seems to follow an analogy to Pareto's Principle: 20% of something always controls 80% of it. The arts are no exception to this. Out of a large group, only a handful of artists ever become influential and gain any success. The others are just trying to catch up with them.
Thorium Could someone please post up an image of a Sean Scully painting and then post up a work by a competent living master such as Morgan Weistling in juxtaposition. I believe the images will speak for themselves. Also, returning to the issue of whether one can be referred to as the artist of a piece if he has not physically crafted it, I propose a new argument. Say I had Michelangelo in a room and I thought of an original pose which he then memorised and used to produce an exquisite sculpture. On completion I came up with a statement of what the piece was intended to project. Therefore the idea (the pose and the message) would be mine and I would simply have used Michelangelo to technically produce my invention. Am I therefore the artist? Even though there is no way I myself could have produced such a masterpiece? I am fine with a master - say Rubens - delegating inferior aspects of rendering to a student who he has trained to copy his style, but what if the delegator had no right to delegate as he himself could not render?
Plutonium Thorium, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE put up some of your art, you can't claim **** and then not back it up. PLEASE put some up. For our entertainment of course. The fact that you're about 17 makes it even funnier that you say "X, Y and Z are great contemporary artists and myself too soon enough!" Do you have ANY idea how many first-years in art college think that? Four in every year of one hundred become actual artists. What a dick! I bet your parents made you go on camping holidays. You have no credibility, no experience, and most importantly, no knowledge of the current art world that you think you're going to conquer. Oh and ALL of your great masters of painting had assistants. ALL of them. And lots of today's artists do too. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. A manager of a company still runs the company even if he has 100 staff. its a JOB, not an eccentric romanticized passion. I would LOVE to see you cope in art college with your arrogance. A lot of getting known is having lots of friends. Good luck with that!
Pollonium Hey, Thorium, this guy will make you wet yourself. Conor Walton, painter of 'philosophical paintings'. Irish. Retard. Can you believe people are making this crap!? It's beyond bad. They look like Photoshop filters! Himself and Thorium can be best buddies. And we can laugh.
Strontium He reminds me of those painters who will knock out copies for you of famous paintings. Technically he could be ok but he seems to have no original ideas.
Plutonium Maybe he lives a lonely and unfulfilling life in the desolate conifer plantations of the midlands. And no one really cares about him too.
Loser.

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