Friday, November 6, 2009

Surachat Kesprasit on Abnormal, Eccentric Art

Surachat Kesprasit., ‘Abnormal, Eccentric Art (3)’ in FINE ART magazine, V.3, No.21, March 2006.

Conceptual art – art which makes some intellectual point – is an art activity that tends to abstraction. That is, [the idea] is more important than the reality of what is visible to the eye, which is concrete. [The Thai term is มโนคติศิลป์)

That is, it is art that takes as its major content the ideas artists express in their works or activities. The artist presents an idea to the audience and lets that idea grow. Held fast in the memory or the mind, the imagination of the audience will expand. The result is the birth of ideas, emotions and the feelings of art.

So you see that it differs from the art that we perceive and touch in vision such as painting and sculpture, which is traditionally known and generally valued. When we look at or appreciate traditional art we first see the beauty of its form. This is an important basis of art. Then we turn to the ideas being presented, the content. That comes next.

Actually, conceptual art is like ศิลปะประเด็นคิด [art with a point to ponder (?)]. It is essential to think it out abstractly and to make it concrete as a work or activity of art. The process itself is just a tool of art, only that. The process is challenging and has value. The creative person and the viewer have a special role in this case. What is important is the intention of the creator. This is the indicator to show whether the art is abnormal or is fine art, and to what level or degree. If you study to current of contemporary art in the West since about 1920, you will see that it has been changing. The framework has been opening. In terms of theoretical principles in each era of the West, and in their art as well, there are revolts, and rules are pushed aside. What is old is changed. There are always new waves overtaking the old ones.

On this point, I used to read a conversation between two internationally known Thai artists. Kamin Lertchaiprasert was asking Rerkrit Treerawanich in the book ‘How to Be an Artist in 20 Hours’ [?] from the Land Foundation. It is about movements in the contemporary artworld and their views about art in the future. K. Kamin was asking something like, ‘What are the lives like of these contemporary artists in the West today who make these weird works of art? Are they happy?’

The answer from K. Rerkrit Treerawanich was that most of them were not very happy. He said he knew them pretty well.

From that observation, the writer couldn’t help but think about this confusing, disordered, and violent flow, the method and making or doing art, and a person’s way of life, especially the lives of artists. If they lived normally, their minds and hearts would not be so weird and abnormal, and they would understand that art activities reflect these things.

In any case, the writer is confident that art is made by people to express emotion, feeling, ideas, goodness, beauty and reality. Art which aims at uplifting people’s minds, whether traditional (which is easy to understand) or abstract and avant garde, it can be good art, art which gives people value and beauty, order and wholeness. And art can polish the soul of the viewer and make it more discerning, leading toward goodness. Though the emotion is violent in some kinds of art, it is not necessarily abnormal or deviant. The power of emotion in a work should help cleanse the mind, taking it to a higher, more beautiful level.

At the end of this article, the writer recalls the role of the creative artist and the art teacher for the coming generations. Surely, there must be an attitude, an approach, as a means of making art which is suitable and beautiful for many students. They will know that art is something made by humanity to express emotion and feeling, goodness and reality. The artist may express by method, process or language of art – howsoever it may be – the important thing is that the work must have moving emotion. And about the character of the emotion, there are five points to consider:

First: A feeling of shock on encountering something strange or weird. (INDIVIDUAL EMOTION)
Second: A feeling of sorrow or sympathy, as when seen suffering or tragedy.(SYMPATHETIC EMOTION)
Third: A feeling of freedom and comfort, when meeting something
beautiful hearing lovely sounds, or enjoying a story with a happy ending
Fourth: A feeling of awe and reverence, as when meeting something beautiful with grace, something awe-inspiring and fearful. It may be frightening. (MORAL EMOTION)
Sixth: Happiness in gaining knowledge, wisdom, seeing relationships and patterns, reality or truth. (INTELLECTUAL EMOTION)

As to the above five points, there will be artists or groups who make the kind of works the writer mentioned at the start and who will scream with emotion, disturbed and doubtful, irritable and scornful, that [the above five points] are utterly outdated. Nowadays, they will say, it is a digital age, globalized. We use money at the speed of light. And (the writer believes) it will become an age of สุริยาภิวัตน์ (solarization?). Art in the future will be full of abnormality and incredible deviance. It is difficult to imagine how it could be. Actually, there should be 6th, 7th … 10th points, or even more than that! Making art should actually be done with fear and trepidation, seeing how strange and wicked it can be, how weird, how totally satisfied with raw instinct, enslaved to materialism, showing everything.

Hence the words: หีนศิลป์ (base or vile art); อุบาทศิลป์ (wicked, dangerous art); อัปริยศิลป์ (vile and mean art) or วิตถารศิลป์ (abnormal, deviant art). These words should be used to name these kinds of current disordered and chaotic art or art activities. The writer prays softly, using this old poem [Thai Art Criticism Seeker apologizes especially for her even more inadequate translation of poetry.]

Art is a mirror reflecting Images showing something of society.
Art is like a mirror, fallen low Sexual desire for the breast, below the navel.
The heart is ironic As if to mock beauty: is art lost already?
Such success, whose mind moans [?] Animals…..Sensuality
Lost..the..West -fallen into perversion The free world has only mental illness. The earth…the worm…hot, burning. Disease, confusion, lost in ignorance and sin.

It should be clear by now that the many art activities undertaken to satisfy lust and ignorance are immoral and influence the mind in a negative way. They destroy what is good and beautiful in wisdom, feeling and behavior of the people in society, rather than raising them to higher, better levels. Instead, they honor what is vile and support what is dirty and pornographic or IMMORAL ART which is all wrong (the monks call it อกุศลธรรม), the rule of evil, most foul and vile.


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