Our Desk | The Dead Artists Society – Part 2

Renato Marques

For those unfamiliar with the first part of my opinion piece, I talked about an emerging artist-led movement which has the motto: “Support living artists, the dead ones don’t need it.” The movement tries to present new ways of seeing, appreciating and acquiring art pieces from several sources as a daily activity and cost.
The movement also sees art as something ephemeral and a regular consumable item, opposing the notion that has prevailed for many decades that art is a very durable collectible item.
Today I want to address a related topic, another movement that calls for the “support of local artists.”
Although this movement also follows on with the general idea of supporting living artists, it goes a few steps further and calls for the support of artists in your city, country or region.
This idea arises from the Covid-19 crisis and the fact that art, in all its forms, has become an easily expendable item while faced with tough times, less income and other issues that people and companies have been struggling with.
Although I do agree with the idea that you should support artists who are local and you would know better, especially when discussing charity for instance, I also fear that this idea of supporting locals just because they are locals might become an easy trap to fall into.
If we look at local art exhibitions for the past few years it becomes clear that something strange is going on with some “local artists,” as they monopolize exhibition venues with the same works week after week, month after month, and year after year.
Is it because there are no other artists to fill the void? I doubt it. To me, this is a case of a lack of vision and courage from curators and the people responsible for hosting these events that arises from the standardized behavior that a name is good because it is “famous.”
Fame seems to be very important, more important than quality, creativity or new ideas. This seems odd in a city that is allegedly using “creative industries” as a way to diversify from casino activities and the idea that are they are the only engine for economic activity.
Some people will say this happens due to nepotism, however I think that it is not that simple. In a way, it is simpler to propose a certain (known) name than to research for others, for new blood, for people that have not yet proved their value to society.
But to be honest, the disappointment is often huge. Especially when you go to an exhibition to find a series of blank canvases that is said to represent emptiness.
I know I am not a person with much training or experience in art, but a series of white canvases does not represent the emptiness. They are the emptiness, and there is not much you can add that can justifies that.
It seems that most of the creativity in many art exhibitions comes from the justifications of those proposing or hosting the exhibition.
In the end, it seems that all art is being limited to a literary exercise by some brave people attempting to justifying the unjustifiable, defending with pretty words something that would otherwise just be considered pretentious at one exhibition after another. The art of rhetoric seems to be the one that pays off.
I remember a quote from one of my teachers in university. Her name was Isabel Kowalski and one day she said: “If you need to explain art, it means it’s not real art.”
Kowalski’s opinion matches perfectly with my idea of art as a simple appreciator. If it needs too much justification and explanation, that means it can’t transmit its message, it can’t make you think, it can’t prompt any reactions, emotions or feelings.
This to say that I am daring to change the slogan from “support local artists” to “support good work from good local artists.”

Categories Opinion