December 21, 2008

Painting, Coffee, Toast


Painting, Toast, Coffee

Does anyone still remember the end of painting, the death of painting, etc? It all seems like such a long time ago. What was it exactly that we thought was ending? An interest in strong male (possibly drunk) figures standing in front of blank canvases as if the canvases themselves were land waiting to be conquered? The feeling that abstraction was a meaningful, resonant break with representation? Art that didn’t involve video cameras?

And then another thought, another question: does anything ever really end? Do bands actually break up, or at least ever stay broken: the Sex Pistols got back together, Young Marble Giants got back together, The Pixies got back to together. Every ending is only a dull pause before the beast comes, once again, back to life.

Toast, Painting, Coffee

The colloquialism ‘you’re toast’ of course means: you’re beaten, you’re down for the count, you’re done, it’s over. I do not know the expressions origin. Should I look it up? Should I google it? Could I simply figure it out myself through common sense or logic? Bread is put into a toaster. Before it goes into the toaster it is bread, after toast. The bread is gone, of course only transformed, but somehow something that is less fresh, more burnt, now stands in its place. Perhaps, when there is discourse about things coming to an end (the end of history, the death of the novel, etc.) such things are not gone at all: they have only been toasted (I am tempted to write: toasted by over-thinking, by over-examination.) Where once there was something fresh, something straight out of the oven, in it’s place is now something that is burnt and, at any moment, ready to crumble.

Toast is traditionally eaten in the morning. “Tomorrow is another day,” is another expression that suddenly comes to mind, along the lines of: Today painting is dead but tomorrow is another day. Another day with toast and coffee and a new sunrise that will shine through the studio window. Each work will be seen in this new light. The pain and struggle, from the day before, of trying to figure how and why and what to make is washed away by such light. All you have is the work in front of you, without explanation, saying only what it chooses to say in that exact moment. Does it still choose to say: ‘you’re toast.’

Coffee, Toast, Painting

I often wonder, in an of course completely hypothetical manner, if I were to wake up one morning and there was simply, absolutely, no art left anywhere in the world, how long it would take me to notice. If I wonder about this for a while I usually come to the conclusion that it might even take a few days. However, if I were to wake up one morning and there was absolutely no coffee left anywhere in the world I am quite sure I would notice in about fifteen seconds. From this tentative thought experiment is it possible to ascertain that coffee is considerably more important than art.

You are in the studio, it is morning, a coffee in one hand, perhaps a cigarette in the other. You’re wandering around the studio, looking out the window, wondering about various random things, wondering about the next move, absent-mindedly placing the coffee cup down, picking it up again, noticing that the bottom of the cup has left a ring, a stain. The stain is a trace of this aimless moment, repeated over and over again, as if into infinity.


1 comment:

SHEN Yi Elsie said...

:) there is no art my friend, trust me. it is ART = Attention Reversal Tentative