Tuesday, 3 January 2012

UnMasterclass 52

This week for the final UnMasterclass we take on a behemoth of painting; and what many see as the start of painting’s supposed endpoint, Malevich’s Black Square. Where can painting go from here, when it’s form and subject has been reduced to such purity of thought, approach and output. Malevich, in his launching pamphlet for Suprematism, set out a call to arms for artists to set aside the traditional criteria for art of reproducing from nature; or in Malevich’s words “the tracing of the savage’s first primitive image”, based upon the idea that because the first marks were made to replicate nature, there is no reason that we should continue in this vein.
Malevich set out a manifesto for dropping these traditional approaches of reflecting the mirror of nature for their art, to create from the mind of humans only. In Malevich’s far more eloquent words “An artist is under the obligation to be a free creator, but not a freebooter. An artist is given talent in order that he may give life to his share of creation and increase the flow of life. Only in absolute creation will he acquire his right.”
In recent weeks UnMasterclass has been increasingly drawn towards the 20th century abstract spectrum of painting. This week we reach an impasse, where can we go from here? And so we end. Fittingly this weeks episode sees us aesthetically reproduce most faithfully a masters painting. Yet this is only on the face of it faithful, as of course UnMasterclass is far, far away from being faithful from Malevich’s visions for the future of art. UnMasterclass is a thief who has lost its cause. We have reproduced a multitude of paintings to prove a point that to learn the craft of painting one must learn from the master paintings of the past. The impasse we reach is with Malevich. Here is an art that has reduced painting to a purity, not just of form, but of conceptual validity of the medium as well.
And so UnMasterclass cannot learn the craft of Malevich’s art, through reproducing it in front of the painting itself or reproduction from the book or the web. The flesh and simplicity of the painting is easy to reproduce, but the message is all lost. Malevich needs work of the cerebral to come alive and with that we need the spoken and the written word, not the brush and the eye. And so we stop. We stop the words and we stop the reproduction of paintings. We are not sure what we have learnt, we can only speculate that we are still sure that our initial thoughts that the craft of painting is best learnt by studying the original paintings of artists. We still believe in the value of figuring out how these paintings were conceived and then bringing this studied knowledge to the studio to renew and further the continued journey and joy of painting is the best way to learn how to paint well. However we are still sure that the skill of painting is only half the battle, there are too many vacuous technically proficient paintings and too many awfully conceived interesting ideas for paintings out there. When the two come together then we have triumphs of paintings/art. But for now we leave it again to Malevich and free ourselves from the shackles;
“To reproduce beloved objects and little corners of nature is just like a thief being enraptured by his legs in irons.” 
To view the last ever UnMasterclass please click here http://vimeo.com/34529652

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