Wednesday, March 21, 2018

For Gagosian this Spring it's "Dots" (Damien's dots)

I regret having treated with snark on Twitter the new work of Damien Hirst in so far as my knee-jerk reaction did not allow me to see that  his work might have a connection with the zeitgeist defining the work of other contemporary artists.  It is hard to take him seriously when so much of his work like Koons's plays again and again the Trump card of oversized bombast. It leads me to believe that their dealer Gagosian's only goal is to totally dominate the art market with art of oversized egos that aims to emotionally crush the competition. Sorry Larry! I am sure you voted for Hillary but the work you show anticipated Trump, whose architecture crushed the Westside of New York with bad taste from which it will never recover unless global warming raises the sea level to wash it away. It became clear in the primary debates that Trump was incapable of dialog. For him there was only winning which means crushing the competition. So with Hirst. He will always find a way to gross you out, to desensitize you so that you lose faith in any sense of shared values. If there is any awareness of tradition in his work he inbalms it with icey technology as he did with his earlier dot paintings. Or his inbalming of the essence of phusis/life in the shark sculptures. shows how far a cold ego can go in destroying the natural world.  So what's up with  his new work that evokes a  sensibility, that looks like his fellow Brit Andrew Forge's homages to Seurat. Is this bloke getting a wee bit daft in his middle years.

This morning I  recalled my essay Topoi of Contemporary Culture that ends with this paragraph:

We are neither the mothers nor fathers who built the modern industrial state for which modernism was the topos. Either we use abstraction ironically or pathetically (with pathos), or expunge any remnant of the self and let art blend into technology by destroying the boundaries of the human and the machine. Any hermeneutic to go back is doomed to miss the essence of the past. Contemporary abstraction is caught in a twisted embrace with Modernism which ever escapes its hold and retreats further and further into the past. How much longer will we  limp along in this contorted topology, that knows vaguely where it came from but for sure does not know where it is going. 

What if Hirst has decided to join in this twisted embrace with the past that is an acknowledgement of the logos of Western thinking that sought out the foundations of consciousness and applied them to the structure of painting. I have already remarked that there was a shift in the work of Jennifer Guidi, the wife of Zombie Formalist Grotjahn with her use of pointillism and atmospheric colors. It were as though the logic of  Zombie Formalism has hit bottom and could only reiterate its nihilism so many times before it became boring. Dialectically the only way out is to move back in a sort of culturally reactionary move to the origins of Modernism in the color of Seurat and Matisse. It would be comforting to think that Hirst drinking at the well of these artist might stimulate a new synthesis but Hirst is at his best at being a bully boy and even though his work assumes the oversized scale typical of New York galleries, which makes up for lack of intelligence, this work is a dead-end. This retreat into origins is interesting to consider culturally. Is it a fear that the mockery and tearing apart that is the leitmotiv of contemporary art  has gone so far as to destroy the cultural ethos that allows for such mockery in the first place?