OUR COLUMNIST AVILA REFLECTS ON MY ARTICLE ON PETER DOIG’S EARLY WORKS (CURRENTLY BEING SHOWN AT MICHAEL WERNER’S NYC) AND ON SWISS ARTIST ANGELA LYN’S REACTION TO IT (WHERE SHE ARGUES THAT HIS STYLISTIC CHANGES ARE A RESPONSE TO THE PRESSURES OF THE ART MARKET):

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‘Ok… Let’s see… I think that the question is: what is substantial and what is not…?

Do Peter Doig’s drawings/paintigs from the 80’s represent something substantial as an Art form? Or… Do those drawings represent something especial but with little significance for latter generations of individuals…? And I guess that the answer depends in how you take those drawings and you apply them for… let’s say our actual contemporary world. Generally, we could understand as “something substantial” in the art world as something with enough content that could represent (in its meaning and form) the essence of an era (or at least a great amount of it). I don’t think those drawings are substantial, because they do represent some things from the 80’s but they don’t talk about general themes that make up the fabric of society in time… They are more than anything a perspective on particular situations and people observed from the point of view of a young adult with a lot of humor and a sense of curiosity…

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Well… let me translate a comment that I did in Canete’s spanish blog a couple of days ago: “The atemporality in Art is obtain by the fact the there are series of themes close to the individual and his soul which change little with the pass of time. We are some sort of mirrors that through our experience and knowledge filtrate everything that we are exposed to and reflect it with a particular significance because each person is different, but we have all something in common. That is the reason why if we look at a Roman fresco or a painting of Don Quixote attacking giant wind mills we feel certain irony, etc. The human been has changed little in the last 100,000 years (10,000 for those that have issues of cross mixing between Cro-magnons and Neanderthals.) What has changed are the circumstances. Today there is a predilection for expressing humanity and spirituality through objects, machines, etc… since we are surrounded by them, and it seems that to many it results very difficult to separate their identity from the exterior things. In general, the social mass and the objects have transformed (in appearance) the individual into an irrelevant and impotent been. In general, when the individuality is expressed (previous society’s consent) it results quite boring, because there is a predilection to avoid that thread or connection with the spiritual and the human which doesn’t change much with time, showing that society only has an interest on the new and the replaceable, and to see itself in a nacissistic way like something special in a particular moment, able to express Art at any occasion… which at the same time empties it of significance. In another words, if everything that society makes is Art, then nothing it is…”

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I don’t think that Conceptual art “per se” has removed us from what touches us… I think that it is the lack of intention and hard work what has removed artists from depict the world with significance. In theory, Peter Doig’s sense of humor and curiosity for particular situations in the 80’s could very well be applied to “substantial subjects”. The question is how, and if it will make the “serious subject” trivial in the view of a society that uses the least excuse to avoid dealing with reality… Because let’s be clear… if we try to affect the behavior of a society like ours with personal situations expressed through art, hoping that one day it will come to its senses, I think that we are dreaming… In another words, we must “attack” where it hurts… and that in my opinion is what society considers more important… which is science and technology… Now, I’m not saying that all artists need to address this issue, and I’m not saying either that an artist has to dedicate all his time to it; I’m just saying that somebody has to do it…’

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