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If there’s another universe, I’d be surprised if its laws of physics were the same as ours. For the sake of illustration, let’s call the part of the brain we respond to art in ‘The Art Universe’. Assuming no life on other planets, and discounting non-humans, eight billion universes within one universal universe. I think Stuckism gets ‘The Art Universe’ wrong.
Stuckism manifesto : ‘an existing object (e.g. a dead sheep) blocks access to the inner world.‘ ‘The‘ is my issue. No one tells me what blocks access to my inner world.
There are as many Art Universes as there are brains. No one can experience, understand or know the laws of each others Art Universe. We can compare notes, find apparent overlaps and differences, but it’s all a load of nothing. We have no idea how differently the laws of each others universes operate. Even two people experiencing art they both like could, as far as anyone can tell, still be having vastly different experiences. Uncountable stimuli hitting uncountable receptors with further uncountable stimuli influencing the experience the viewer has, which is itself perceivable from uncountable different vantage points in uncountable different conditions across uncountable different variables.
For it to be true, that we can assign objective values we recognise to art, and from this, even begin weeding out the bad from the good, imagine what else would have to be true. How would we explain all the artists that dedicate their time and effort to making conceptual art? Are they all pretenders? And those claiming to be fans of it. None having the integrity us Stuckists recognise in ourselves?
Keith Haring is a good artist in my universe. No one can tell me I’m wrong, because I know I’m right. You might not get any value out of his work, in your universe. In your universe, Keith Haring may be a bad artist and you’d be right. In my universe dead sheep stimulate zero receptors in all conditions. Dead sheep may light you up like a fun fair. How would I know? I can’t question your integrity without having even visited your universe.
Today, I argued this point with a fellow painter, throwing music in as well as I think the same applies. It’s all 100% taste. The idea of there being people with either good or bad taste is delusional. Taste cannot be wrong. I can’t declare Picasso artistically superior to any conceptual artist, anymore than a dung beetle can declare shit tastier than chocolate. Similarly, any number of sexual practices can be experienced as intensely arousing deep psychological and spiritual awakenings for some, and vomit inducing for others.
Some objective truths I accept: 2 + 2 = 4. A tree is a big plant with a wooden trunk and leaves. A good aquarium doesn’t leak, whereas a bad one may. There aren’t many others. Objective truths can be wholly observed in our shared universe. There’s witnesses at sporting events to prove the outcome. If we’re measuring a tennis players ability to score more points than their opponent, this can be done, and a trophy subsequently awarded. You don’t need a panel of judges, as the outcome isn’t processed internally. The laws of our individual universes don’t matter. However, if you want to award a trophy to the best tennis player, based on the grace and beauty in how they played, out come the judges and the inevitable compromise. One trophy is awarded based on an objective truth, the other on subjective opinion. I don’t see how it’s possible to move artistic value from the subjective to the objective, irrespective of the influence of our internal universes, to any extent without having to concede that we can’t possibly know what we’re talking about.
A water-tight manifesto could declare Italian Renaissance painting artistically and spiritually superior to German Expressionism, and vice versa. Another could declare classical music superior to pop, and vice versa. All written by expert authors speaking their truth with the utmost passion and integrity, but with the same lack of perspective and experience we all share, that of anything outside of ourself.
Perspective and experience Stuckism not only lacks, but seems oblivious to lacking.
Below are photos of some paintings I finished today. At the top of the page is a video. More importantly, below the photos are the details of my forthcoming exhibition at Highgate Gallery in March 2024.
My next exhibition:
Exhibition Title: Heckel’s Horse Jr.
Venue: Highgate Gallery at Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution
11 South Grove
London N6 6BS
8th March 2024, 6 – 8.30pm
Exhibition runs until
21st March 2024
Heckel’s Horse Jr. is not to be confused with Heckel’s Horse.
Heckel’s Horse Jr. is an alias used by Edgeworth Johnstone. Under this alias, Johnstone paints works based on Heckel’s Horse paintings in his home studio in Muswell Hill, London.
Heckel’s Horse is a painting collaboration between Billy Childish and Edgeworth Johnstone. Since 2013, Childish and Johnstone have made roughly 200 paintings together, at Childish’s studio in Chatham Dockyard.
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