Bruce Nauman is known as an artist whose practice is rooted in the studio, by an enormous investment in a sense of discovery and rigorous play, he has come to transform not only what the studio is and can be in a relationship to an artist making art, but also transforming what we think of as art. His early performances saw him pacing around the studio, bouncing a ball, plucking violins incessantly and so on. All tasks he set in the confines of the studio space that have had an impact on not only the art he has gone on to make, but also that of countless other artist. Coosje Van Bruggen has said about these early performances; "Nauman felt strongly that the important thing in doing these performances was to 'recognise what you don't know, and what you can't do', and as an amateur never to allow himself to slip into traditional music, theatre or dance, where he would put himself in the position of being compared with professional performers in those fields. Nauman believed that if he chose the right set of circumstances and structure, was serious enough about his activities, and worked hard at it, his performance would have merit. His intentions and attitude would turn the performance into art." Here at UnMasterclass Nauman has long been an inspirational figure and the attitude he expresses in his words above certainly have currency in what we are aiming to do. We are placing ourselves as the amateur painter and thus trying to say something about painting. However we are also position as the tutor trying to get across a message of how others could (or should) learn how to paint, not by example, but by pointing out the flaws in learning how to paint by not studying how and what others have done before properly Definitely a case of do as we say and not as we do, and do what we say with a pinch of salt.So in Nauman's words 'recognise what you know and what you can't do'. In this case realise what you can paint well and look to what you can't do, both accept the impossible of not being able to be the master painter of old, whilst believing you can do better. Aspire to be a different painter from those before, one that becomes a new professional by achieving something new and different, based on what has been done before by others. Do not copy, but take on what others have done and regurgitate in a fresh and different way. And learn from what past painters do, not replicating exactly how they do it. Understand how to move on with your own voice. So endeth this weeks lesson. Pop along to see UnMasterclass 27 at http://vimeo.com/25939822 and of course pop along to a gallery to see some paintings in a flesh, look them all in the 'eye', work them out and then start anew. And pop along to see a Nauman video while you are there and if you can. He is the don.
Andrew Bracey is an artist based in Manchester. This blog displays news of his latest exhibitions and during 2011 is home to a series of posts on UnMasterclass. His work explores what painting can be in the contemporary world, he does not always use paint or canvas though. He is currently a Senior lecturer in fine art at the University of Lincoln and a member of Suite Studio Group. You can see more of his work at www.andrewbracey.co.uk