A-listers & A-holes: What Art Is?

By Petrus Gapingfly with Simon Pleasance

 

TALENT CORNERED Thibault d’Aussières des Embres, one of many gift-free pseudo-postconceptual artistes currently taking up space in today's multi-faceted art sideshow. Artenol photo Art – the visual arts – may be broadly defined as the expression or application of human creative skills and imagination, resulting in the production of (art)works originally involving painting, drawing and sculpture, but latterly encompassing genres such as Conceptual Art and Minimalist Art, happenings, installations, performance, video art, land art, sonic art, fart art and what not.

Artists are people who produce art. Without them, ostensibly, there would be no art.

Mother Art may, in a pinch, be likened to the opossum shrimp. Parenthetically, the male mysid is endowed with two penises – one, perhaps, imparting life; the other, in this warped metonymic role, art. In the female’s fertilized brood pouch, the young infest their mater, in due course completely devour her and are then let loose upon the environment.

The progeny of Mother Art likewise feast upon her offal, often so depleting her that she ends up a mere exoskeleton, half-overlooked on the cluttered lido of late 20th- and early 21st-century culture,¹ for, in the artworld camembert, the dollar-driven flurry-and-scurry seems such that the quintessence is often sidelined. Hers is a ravenous, multifarious brood: art historians, museum and exhibition curators, art collectors, foundation directors, art consultants, art publishers, gallery owners, art theorists, art critics, art dealers, docents, art connoisseurs, art schools – one is tempted to throw in arteries, artichokes and artillery – art reviews and journals, and, last but not least, artists.

In tandem with my (self-appointed) task of art translation, I have long enjoyed an unexplained, usually rewarded interest in artistic phenomena, processes and products and, just as much, in the people producing them. Let me then create a merrily cruel portrait of Mother Art as exemplified by her offspring. I will discuss just three of them, although the broadness of the tableau may necessarily involve many others. Suffice it to say that the portraits drawn here will depict participants who do no service to their ilk² (some of whom are my best friends). The principals will be, naturally, an artist, the critics and pair of dealers. We start where art begins – with the artist.

ART EXPLAINED A young critic examines the health of today's art and concludes that art is, in fact, dead. You may be, too, by the end of this earnest, and apparently serious, exegesis. YouTube video

Le peintre

Our early 21st-century practitioner resides in the French Mediterranean – he “needs” the Mediterranean, his spouse assures us – with a studio and exhibition rooms in a southern Languedocian château-lette (cheap-ish), and a domicile in one of those semi-fashionable Riviera slums wedged dizzily between Menton and Monte Carlo (pricey). His wife runs a shoe shop there (stocked, it is rumored, with faux-Ferragamo acquired in Ventimiglia), while her husband-artist doubles as a feisty realtor.

His name is Thibault d’Aussières des Embres (its pre-Revolutionary syllabary mostly purchased). He never attended any institution conceived to foster, say, art technique, and is accordingly bereft of the basic three Rs – reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic – as applied to the artistic metier. As a 100-percent skill- and gift-free pseudo-postconceptual artiste, he thus elects to confine his artistic activity to the application, by brush, of a monochrome hue to scalene triangles made of plywood. But even if our realtor/practitioner exhibits an extreme form of skillfreeness, this did not deter the cultural correspondent of a free monthly broadsheet published by the Languedoc Regional Council from devoting half a page to his art in the mid-2000s: “Le vermillon superbe: l’obsession et les vagues peuvent pousser à la recherche d’une couleur absolue.”

Read the rest of this story in the Winter 2015 issue of Artenol. Order yours today

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