Richard Bledsoe “Along the Allegheny 1767″ oil on canvas 30″ x 24”
Even though I write a blog about art, I do not believe art should reply upon words to be effective.
Excessive explanation is one of the worst traits of the corrupted Postmodern art world. Lots of hackwork gets propped up by commentary, both by artists themselves and the institutions which support them. These days most of the extraneous chatter consists of appeals to grievance groupthink or other politicized posing. This trend follows academia’s current status: deep in the septic tank of Cultural Marxism. It’s predictable that those best at spouting the party line aren’t really the creative ones.
No virtue signalling propaganda will ever fulfill that crucial human need for art. Great art speaks for itself, no explanation or justifications needed. It uses a language without words, which speaks directly to our souls.
Nevertheless, being of an analytical nature, I can’t help thinking about painting, and describing my observations.
First, painting is philosophy. Not in the pedantic sense, where insular scholars endlessly split hairs, and quibble over nuances. Painting is philosophy in action. Painting is translation, changing esoteric thoughts into comprehensible forms. Painting is consciousness harnessed by a physical process, which creates evidence of an individual’s world view. Show me what you paint, and you show me who you are.
Second, what do my paintings say about me?
I have come to identify two great currents which run through my art. I’m always a story teller, a painter of fables and parables. But I see the nature of the stories told come at me from both on high and down low.
I call this dichotomy the Canon and the Tall Tales.
We of the West have an amazing legacy to draw on. Our forefathers bequeathed us great traditions of faith, science, art, literature, and law. Part of my art is part of that continuum of grand accomplishments. To recognize the structures. To uphold the harmony of reason, grace, and beauty.
Where some of my artistic practice drifts down from the cosmos, other parts of it pushes out of the earth like toadstools.
The Tall Tales are the grotesque gargoyles on the soaring cathedral. The ghost story told around the campfire. The frightening fairy tale told by a beloved grandmother with a big wart on her nose. It’s the spooky and the strange and the dark places. These things are just as much a part of humanity as the decisiveness and compassion of our better angels. They are also as American as Edgar Allen Poe, and Robert Johnson.
I realized both aspects of my artistic viewpoint came together in the painting above, Along the Allegheny 1767. It depicts what happens when the representatives of the uniformed hierarchies of the Old World encounter the mysterious weirdness of the American wilderness. Magical things occur.
Currently our tainted elitists are ruthlessly attempting to suppress and destroy our heritage so they can rule over us unopposed by any notions of quality. The rise of the Remodern era shows they have failed in their cultural suicide mission.
I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting; Along the Allegheny 1767 is available, along with many others. Please send any inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts from a Remodern perspective.
“From Brutality to Livelihood to Discarded Cumbersome Noncompetitive Capital Investment…”
“Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.”
The UK’s Tate Museum holds an annual awards ceremony, the Turner Prize. It’s supposed to be about art, but it isn’t. This spectacle is meant to lavish funds and attention on whoever is judged to be Britain’s best exemplar of the Postmodern establishment’s efforts to undermine Western civilization.
The elites are on a relentless quest to eliminate genuine art from the culture. The long march through the institutions has resulted in our social foundations being riddled with radical hacks. Since colluding Cultural Marxists maintain monopolistic control over society’s mass communications, including the arts, these partisans set the agenda. It’s now painfully clear the program is to reduce art to just another vehicle for social justice activism.
The excesses and absurdity of the Turner Prize are nothing new. It’s been retreating from recognizing actual artistic achievement since its inception in 1984. The Stuckists, the first Remodern art movement, organized protests against the inane non-art of the Turner shortlists for years.
But a shift is happening in the art world. Emphasis is moving away from trends which dominated the art market since the 1990s: obviously silly anti-art.
Not Woke Enough
This junk was political in the sense it was an assault on traditional expectations of artistic excellence. Now even that mask is off, and nothing but pure propaganda will be advanced and rewarded.
Case in point: Turner Prize nominee Helen Cammock. She makes dull videos while reciting derivative observations and slogans. It’s a poor substitute for creativity and skill.
“I think all art is political,” Cammock says. “Even if you make work that doesn’t speak of politics, if you’re not speaking you’re making a political decision.” But the artist feels her message is wider in scope than just a criticism of Italian politics. “It’s a global statement, and it’s the same statement I would make about this country” she says. “We are also living in the politics of the far right, we are just in a different geographical location.”
“The call to action is to everyone,” Cammock says. “It’s not about identifying Italian politics or Italian culture as any more extreme because I believe we are all in a very dangerous and poisonous moment.”
Fascinating. While Cammock’s fellow travelling leftists dominate not only the arts, but government, media, social media, tech companies, academia, corporate boardrooms, and the globalized upper class, she’s lamenting that the “far right” is shaping the environment. Right.
In a way though, she’s got a point. There are threats to the status quo, which was supposed to be permanent. Even though the Cultural Marxists rule, they have not succeeded is forcing all to bow before their usurped power. The people oppose the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected.
Eruptions are happening around the world. From American Deplorables to French Yellow Vests, from the UK’s own Brexiteers to Hong Kong’s Umbrella Protests, from Italian sovereignism to the Brazilian PSL, there are mass movements against our declining Postmodern masters.
This was foretold in the arts, going back to when the Stuckists dressed like clowns as a condemnation of the beclowning of the Tate Museum. Welcome to the next phase of civilization: the Remodern Age. The story of the 21st century will be the dismantling of centralized power. It’s an exciting time, even though the course ahead will not be easy.
The Helen Cammocks of the art world oppose this developing and promising future. They lash out against it because it threatens their privileged positions as useful tools within the Postmodern hierarchy.
Of course Helen Cammock believes all art is political. Her inferior replacements for art are nothing but realpolitik screeds of victimhood and implied retributions. Helen Cammock is up for the Turner Prize because she checks the correct diversity boxes, not because of the quality of her so-called art.
Watch one of her pieces here, if you can bear it: Helen Cammock Showreel. It may have been the longest 6 minutes of my life. A static camera films uninteresting scenes, or stock footage unspools, while a monotonous voice drones on in buzzwords about economics and exploitation. Truly an art for the ages!
Helen Cammock is cashing in on the passive aggressive stance of the establishment’s preferred mode identity politics. Because once people were mistreated, she must be above criticism. Whatever she churns out must be lauded and praised. She presents her stale monologue travelogues as if appreciation is mandatory due to ethical concerns.
The art world set these expectations for her. She’s come so far without displaying any legitimate artistic chops. Does she realize she gets opportunities not despite the fact she is a 40-year-old-female-of-color-Sociology-major-former-social-worker-without-an-artistic-background-who-spouts-leftist-dogma, but because she is a 40-year-old-female-of-color-Sociology-major-former-social-worker-without-an- artistic-background-who-spouts-leftist-dogma? This quote from the article may reveal some lack of self-awareness:
Her affinity for text was something she discovered while studying for her Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. She was juggling the coursework while running a photography festival in Brighton, and a sympathetic tutor excused her from having to make work for the remainder of the course if she promised write something every day. “That was the beginning of it,” Cammock says.
Wow, getting preferential treatment from an institute of higher learning. Better check your privilege! I feel sorry for all those saps who had to actually do their coursework to earn their degrees.
Not everything has been easy for Cammock though. She ruefully describes this:
“People can be very suspicious of artists,” she explains. “There’s an idea that it’s really surface or superficial, or that it’s a way of stealing, like cultural thievery. But I want it to be an exchange.”
Maybe if her art was better, she wouldn’t be so sensitive to the charges. Granted, the establishment art industry has been superficial for decades. The griping about cultural appropriation sounds like the wailing of other leftists butthurt they got outmaneuvered in the intersectional grievance identity sweepstakes. Normal people don’t think or act that way. But hurling ideological accusations to drag a rival down is a prime tool for leftist status seeking. We can see it playing out in the increasing frantic Trotskyites versus the Maoists dynamic which is roiling the political classes. Stay tuned to see how that plays out.
Postmodernism started off by redefining art into anti-art. It’s now spread. Like a virus, Postmodernism converted every institution it infested into a factory for producing more of the Postmodern disease. Postmodernism makes every worthy cause betray its rightful mission. Remodernism is the correction of this treachery.
In another article, Cammock describes her efforts as “ventriloquising.” I’m confused by the analogy. Is she claiming to be the puppet master here, making her subjects mouth her approved tropes? Or is she saying she is the dummy, and supposedly the downtrodden masses are speaking through her? Is she The People’s Poet? Ryk, the original SJW from the cult TV show The Young Ones, shows how it’s done:
Either way, whether she’s claiming to be the mastermind or the mouthpiece, such a method has nothing to do with the intimate explorations that lead to compelling artistic excellence. Just look at her results.
The art of Helen Cammock is a phenomenon of the elite’s totalitarian effort to squeeze every aspect of life into rigid political submission. Her videos are not art, they are indoctrination. Politically correct Postmodern attitudes would demand we ignore the misdirection and failure on display.
Remodernism rejects this conformist approach. It recognizes we the people have the right to self determination, including the right not to accept a biased, uninspired sociology lecture as a valid replacement for the mystery, the grandeur, and beauty that only real art can provide.
Helen Cammock: Putting Identity Politics on a Pedestal
My previous article on last year’s Turner Prize follies. From May 6, 2018:
Postmodernism is now the consensus worldview of the ruling elite. Cultivated in the carcinogenic breeding grounds of universities, this deceitful and cranky way of thinking has metastasized, and has become the default position of administrative professionals in government, business, the media, and especially the arts. People are suffering due to this unsustainable hoax, which is being inflicted on us all by top down activism. It has even soured our personal relationships.
Art provides great evidence of Postmodernism’s absurd, pretentious poses. Occasionally in my studies I find a piece that really exposes the rot. The reason the article below resonated for me is the writer sings the praises of some key Postmodern “masterpieces” and “ideas” which I’ve also written about.
Mr. Jones packs many rationalizations and NPC tropes into his brief commentary. He begins with the patronizing Postmodern assertion which blames the audience for not embracing the suck presented by the establishment art world. He proclaims the public doesn’t accept shallow junk as a legitimate replacement for real art because they are not sophisticated enough.
Then, as an illustrative example, he hits the bricks.
A vintage photo of Carl Andre’s “Equivalent VIII”
This is what passes for art in Postmodernism. Jones writes:
“There is an American artist named Carl Andre, a very renowned figure these days thanks to his influential minimalist sculptures. Back in the 1970s, the Tate Gallery in London purchased one of Carl Andre’s works, a piece called Equivalent VIII. The event caused a storm, since the artwork consists of nothing but a series of bricks arranged into a rectangular block on the floor. It had newspapers and critics up in arms, asking why public money was being spent on such an artwork. The term ‘just a pile of bricks’ stuck in the collective memory as shorthand for the dubious product that contemporary art sometimes appears to be.
“It is common for visitors to a contemporary art gallery to wonder if the objects on display are perpetrating some sort of hoax, or at least sharing an inside joke that the rest of us are not allowed to understand.
“In fact, Carl Andre was trying to make a sophisticated statement about the calm beauty of rational order and simplicity, and the relation of earthly materials to actual space. He wasn’t trying to trick anybody. Unfortunately, his wider conception of what a work of art can be didn’t match the public mood.”
I’ve written about this travesty before, in The Great Tate Bricks Controversy of 1976. Where Mr. Jones hallucinates sophistication, beauty, and order radiating off a heap of misplaced masonry, I see something else: “...the limitations of material as message render the piece itself as dull and inert. Without lots of art blather to support it, the piece is simply a stack of bricks out of its normal context, without any inherent interest of its own.“
As the rebellious art movement Stuckism observed: “Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art.”
Mr. Jones goes on to leak out an infamous anecdote about the puerile Postmodern role model, French con artist Marcel Duchamp.
Fountain: Down the Drain
“…In 1917, Duchamp presented a readymade that would have great and lasting significance on the story of art. The work was called Fountain, and consisted of a gents’ urinal made of porcelain from a factory. There is little else to say about it. It’s a urinal. Expect that Duchamp had the temerity to submit it to the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists as a work of art.
“The idea that a porcelain urinal could be considered art was, naturally enough, deeply disconcerting. For centuries, art had consisted of hand-crafted paintings and sculptures. Not surprisingly, the show’s committee decided that Fountain was not art and rejected it from the show.
“Of course, Duchamp wasn’t trying to compete against painting and sculpture with his readymades. Rather, he was making the provocative claim about what art can be. If something is presented as art — if the artist says it’s art — then who is to say whether or not it qualifies? In this way, Fountain addresses the wider questions of cultural tradition, habits of thought and the role of museums in regulating what we as a society deem noteworthy or merely ordinary.”
Mr. Jones either ignores, or does not know, that Duchamp probably stole credit for the urinal from a mentally ill female artist friend of his. In the exposé 1917: A Shattering Discovery from the Year Art Went Into the Toilet, I took the piss out of it: “Fountain has been used as the justification for turning art into an ironic elitist assertion, rather than an uplifting communal experience. It’s a truly nasty legacy.”
The defensive redefining of the purpose of art from a gratifying visceral engagement into a game of deflection and one-upmanship exposes the Postmodern hole in what should be the soul of art. What Postmodernism is presenting is not art. It’s a form of psychological warfare, designed to erode clarity, wisdom and sense of purpose.
George Orwell knew the technique back in 1948, when he wrote 1984. It’s easier to dominate the disoriented and dispirited. Socially enforcing the acceptance of lies is meant to break the mind and the spirit, reducing individuals into easily manipulated drones. To join the elites one must swear 2+2=5. Claiming a toilet is art is exactly the same thing.
Postmodernism believes in nothing but it own insatiable appetite for power. Returning to “How to Look at Contemporary Art,” Mr. Jones parrots the party line.
“Postmodernism takes as its starting point the fact that culture and society have changed a great deal over the past hundred years or so, and that mass media, consumer society and global communications are an integral part of that change.
“Our understanding of fundamental things, like identity, value, progress, meaning and even reality, has been reshaped by these changes.”
It seems more likely that instead of fundamentally remaking man in a matter of decades, technology has just provided a cabal of shitty control freaks with more tools to enforce their will, and better methods of deceit to obscure what is actually going on.
“To arrive at a single point of view seems inadequate. Change is everywhere about us, so our perspectives must continue to change too. Contemporary art has these ideas at its heart.”
Is this a serious claim that change is a new phenomenon for the human race? Postmodernism wants us so focused on what is in flux that we forget about what is eternal.
“An obvious example is the idea that ‘history is written by the victors.’ To realize this truth is to understand that narratives are not necessarily (if ever?) descriptions of truth, and that sometimes there are voices and stories that we don’t hear. Narratives are perspectives, with their own biases and limitations.”
Seeing the world as only an extension of their lust for control, Postmodernists deny objective reality, the endless chains of cause and effect. Instead, they worship The Narrative, a fairy tale version of the universe conjured up by their own relentless wish casting. They desperately need us all to cooperate with this hoax. They want us to have no precedents, principles or traditions that they can be measured against, so they claim there are no such things, or that they are somehow tainted. These days calling out someone for bias is like calling someone a witch during the Inquisition. Just the accusation is considered proof of guilt, and it better be followed with confession and repentance.
But then Mr. Jones hits the sweet spot: the Big Lie that enables the corrupted culture industries to continue to churn out such dysfunctional offerings.
“If you haven’t realized it by now, contemporary art likes to ask lots of questions. In fact, it prefers to ask questions than to take a definite position. That is the influence of postmodernism. It likes to probe the ways of the world and ask if our habits and expectations ought not to be questioned too…
“So when looking at a work of contemporary art, try asking yourself these questions: ‘What habits of thought is this work questioning? What assumptions is it over-turning? And how do I feel about the provocation it is making?”
“There are not right or wrong answers. Just perspectives. Yours, mine, everyone else’s. This is what contemporary art wants to explore and celebrate.”
In “How to Look At Contemporary Art,” Christopher P. Jones tries to defuse our skepticism.”Let me assure you, contemporary art is not trying to trick you. It’s time to leave that idea behind,” he pleads.
Sorry, I won’t leave valid insights behind in order to be a better servant for a totalitarian scheme like Postmodernsim. But I do somewhat agree; contemporary art’s primary purpose is not to trick you.
Elitist contemporary art’s primary purpose to poison you.
In my book Remodern America, I tell the story of Remodernism, the cultural reboot that will wipe out the sophistry and abuses of Postmodernism.
From the Remodern America Manifesto:
This is our moment in the mighty continuum of art and life. Real art knows no boundaries; it communicates across all times, across all cultures. Art is as much an aspect of our species as the opposable thumb, and just as prevalent. The art world can be as big as all of humankind, if we do it right. Remodernism accepts responsibility for the art of our times, conveying the wisdom of tradition into the opportunities of the future. Remodernism is love made visible.
Art reminds us of who we are, and shows what we can be. But these days the visual arts are undergoing a crisis of relevance. Art has been weaponized into an attack on the foundations of civilization itself, full of examples of irrelevance, carrion, excrement, pornography, and debris. Instead of being reverenced as a communion for all, contemporary art is being treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes. In doing so, the New Aristocracy of the Well-Connected block access to powerful resources.
Our self-aggrandizing ruling class’s tawdry and nihilistic vision of life is being inflicted upon us all. They are trying to remake the world in their own rotten image. They deny our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. As a result, the mass audience has turned away. We’ve come to call this assault Postmodernism.
The elitists understood to maintain power, they had to undermine resistance. That’s why the top-down cultural forces have made Postmodernism so prevalent. Using mass media to communicate their sickening message, the establishment made dispiriting Postmodernism the terrain we all must navigate, the atmosphere we all must breathe, the environment we all must adapt to.
Postmodernism is now the consensus worldview of the ruling elite. It is also the reason their current hierarchy is weakened, and failing. Their would-be tool of domination is destroying them. They’ve been hollowed out by their own corrupt pretensions; their collapse is inevitable.
Postmodernism is dead. This is the beginning of the Remodern era.
Art is a more enduring and vital human experience than the power games of a greedy and fraudulent ruling class. The story of the 21st Century will be the dismantling of centralized power. As always, this course of history was prophesied by artists—those who are intuitively aware of the path unfolding ahead. Their works become maps so that others may find the way.
As Andrew Breitbart stated, “Politics is downstream from culture.” A ragtag group of UK artists fired the first shot against the abuses and ineptitude of the entrenched Postmodern establishment. What these artists initiated has spread across the world, in popular culture, the media, politics, gaining ever deeper significance and consequences. Enduring changes start in the arts.
Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization provides an historical overview of how art shapes society and politics. This book exposes how the contemporary art world is used as a tool of oppression. Most importantly, Remodern America provides the solution, and reveals how the power of art can be reclaimed as a force for liberty.
Remodernism is art of the people, by the people, for the people. Our freedom here in the United States should be producing the most moving and accomplished art in human history. America can be a world leader in culture, not just in military and industrial might. We, the people, deserve a better reflection of our character than the appalling mockery of the art favored by the elitists. So we, the people, are going to make it happen.
Remodernism is the recognition that Western civilization is still mighty. Remodernism knows we can still use our talents to create unprecedented growth. Remodernism is understanding our best days are still ahead of us, if we make the right choices, and do the needed work.
We will demonstrate this in art, to begin with. Imagine a new, decentralized creative class not invested in trashing our culture, but in celebrating it. What a choice to present to our citizens! Uplifting, honest artistry will change the tone of our entire society. Where we go one, we go all.
Renew the arts, and renew the civilization. Together, we can make art great again.
“This is our moment in the mighty continuum of art and life. Real art knows no boundaries; it communicates across all times, across all cultures. Art is as much an aspect of our species as the opposable thumb, and just as prevalent. The art world can be as big as all of humankind, if we do it right. Remodernism accepts responsibility for the art of our times, conveying the wisdom of tradition into the opportunities of the future. Remodernism is love made visible.”
-from The Remodern America Manifesto
Edit: Welcome Instapundit Readers! Please visit other articles for more commentary on the state of the arts.
Working as an intuitive artist carries risks. I paint directly onto the canvas from out of my imagination. I don’t work out problems in advance with preparatory sketches. I don’t cheat by letting a projector make my discoveries for me, and be a substitute for my own draftsmanship. I work to coordinate my mind, my hand, and my eye, to communicate the subtlety of inner vision.
The risk is I don’t always succeed in producing an effective image. This is okay, because I always have multiple paintings going at the same time. I put the unsatisfactory canvas aside.
I mentioned the Room of Shame in a previous post. It’s where the unfinished paintings wait. Some I will pull out and bring to proper resolution. But some are past saving. Case in point: Each in Their Garden.
The title is a reference to a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve had a vision of the prehistoric monumental chaos he describes in his mythos. I attempted to depict it on this 30″ x 30″ canvas. It ended up murky and congested. The more I tried to fix it the less cohesive it became.
The seething image I can see in my mind didn’t make it into this picture. It’s become too overworked to repair.
I am so unsatisfied with it I’m going to start an entirely new image on the canvas. It is still a vision of chaos, but in a much more tangible form. I’m excited to get to work on it.
I did want to give Each in Their Garden this one acknowledgement, because parts of it I really enjoy-mostly in the upper half of it. I will take what I learned from this, and move on.
“The making of true art is man’s desire to communicate with himself, his fellows and his God. Art that fails to address these issues is not art.”
Richard Bledsoe “Hollowsaurus” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 36″
On September 1, 2018, I finished Hollowsaurus, an epic painting 6 months in the making. It was an ambitious expansion of an image I first played with on a small canvas:
Richard Bledsoe “Table for Two” acrylic on canvas 12″ x 16″
I was so intrigued by this vision I was presented with that it inspired a whole series of images in my mind. These pieces are the beginning of a new body of work for me. I have already started the next one. I feel the powerful symbolism flowing through these pictures. They speak to me without being reduced to mere words.
While I was making Hollowsaurus, I took pictures of its development. I think these photos give insight on how I build a painting, and how the works evolve.
Defining the elements
“Spiritual art is not about fairyland. It is about taking hold of the rough texture of life. It is about addressing the shadow and making friends with wild dogs. Spirituality is the awareness that everything in life is for a higher purpose.”
Richard Bledsoe “Night’s Forces” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 30″
Let me tell you about the room of shame.
The room of shame is the place where unfinished paintings are stacked, faces to the wall. It must have close to a dozen residents right now, some as large as 30″ x 36″. Some have been in there for many years.
These are paintings which I began, and then at some point in their development, I lost the plot, and the point, and my ability to finish them. This happens sometimes when working intuitively. The inspiration dries up before the work is complete.
I always have multiple works going. For example, right now, I have 4 unfinished paintings pending, 2 of which are practically done. So it’s no great blow to my productivity if I have to put something aside temporarily, or not so temporarily.
Some incomplete works are unsalvageable. I will paint over them, and create a whole new image.
But the paintings in the room of shame are worth completing. I still believe in them, and am waiting for their moment to return. They say the way you do something is the way you do everything. I may be slow, but I am persistent.
Case in point: Night’s Forces.
I began this painting in 2015. It was far advanced when I had to put it away. I’d had a series of studio sessions on it where instead of improving it, I was making it less effective, less resolved. It was a complex composition. I couldn’t get the colors and definitions to function. Off it went to the room of shame, where it lingered for years. Until a few weeks ago, when I brought it out again. I made some big moves on it, because at that point I had nothing to lose. The work would either crash, or crash through. Fortunately, it was the latter.
Night’s Forces is now finished, and I’m ready to move on with additional new projects. My wife Michele Bledsoe created a video of me working on it as it entered it final phases. See the video here:
“Remodernism reboots the culture. Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation.”
Sometimes a painting needs a time out followed by an assertive jump start. This return is driven by Remodernist motivation: I need to show you what I saw, so we will better understand each other, and life as a whole.