14 - 30 August 2008
Ry David Bradley
As a painter, Ry’s fundamental aim is to bring something to the digital medium which is lacking – subtle nuance in colour (it’s something that has to be seen off screen). The process used of remixing and sampling other images to be able to mix and create these colours is what makes it possible (plus a pigment paint based printing process). However on the surface of the work, Ry is letting something else enter the process (it’s arguable if it’s even possible to keep it out) – his own personal humor and pathos.
Recently, we have been witness to yet another resurgence of interest in painting. Should we view the revitalization of this ancient medium as a return to traditional modernist values like autonomy, the human journey, authenticity and self-expression? If indeed we can speak of a return to modernism (remodernism), where will this leave multimedial and transdisciplinary practise in the arts? (1)
In art criticism of the 1960s and 1970s, flatness described the smoothness and absence of curvature or surface detail of a two-dimensional work of art. Critic Clement Greenberg believed that flatness, or two-dimensionality, was an essential and desirable quality in painting, a criterion which implies rejection of painterliness and impasto. The valorization of flatness led to a number of art movements, including minimalism and post-painterly abstractionism. (2)
In 1999 artist Miltos Manetas commissioned the Branding Company Lexicon in Los Angeles, creators of corporate brandnames such as Intel, to create a name for a new contemporary art movement that related to computing and the internet, the project was code-named “?Word”. BCL produced the word ‘Neen’ (translating to ‘exactly now’ in ancient greek) and Manetas went on to write the Neen Manifesto:
“…Neen stands for Neenstars: a still-undefined generation of visual artists…Our official theories about reality—quantum physics, etc.—proved that the taste of our life is the taste of a simulation. Machines help us feel comfortable with this condition: they simulate the simulation we call Nature. Opening the door of your room or clicking on a folder on your computer’s desktop will send you to similar destinations—two versions of reality that are seemingly perfect and dense, but they will start dissolving after you analyze them…Neenstars love copying in the same way that the city of Hong Kong multiplies its most successful buildings. The same, but a little different: Names, Clothes, Style, Art, and Architecture are important for Neenstars. So they create all that from scratch, as if what has been done before them is not so important…If fantasy brought surrealists to the ridiculous and revolution drove communists to failure, it will be curious to observe where computing will bring Neen.” (3)
In the year 2000, Manetas met in Italy with Takashi Murakami, the founder of the Superflat movement, to give a lecture together at the Academia di Brera. At this time neither Superflat or Neen had been presented in a gallery or to the public at large. The Superflat style uses commercial production and re-packages low culture as high art and sells it to the highest bidder in a Warholian echo. Superflat seeks to change the line between commercial low and high art, at the same time reflecting a shallow consumer culture struggling to place methods of meaning whilst operating as a mass movement. In 2008, Takashi Murakami made Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list, and was the only visual artist to do so. However, there is something to be wary of in such heightened commercialism and focus on technology – the disappearance of the artists hand, or the jarring of the individual drowned out in a sea of icons. Murakami is an art director and founder of the KaiKai Kiki Co. Currently Manetas has returned to creating large scale subtle and delicate paintings of girls spanning time within AV cables and hardware.
In the theatre play Endgame by Samuel Beckett, a likely interpretation is that the English title is taken from the last part of a chess game, the endgame, where there are very few pieces left. In the play, the struggle of the protagonist to accept the end can be compared to the refusal of novice chess players to admit defeat, whereas experts normally resign after a serious blunder or setback. The options for painters in a post-contemporary reality have been likened to an endgame, with less and less possible maneuvers or styles as time moves on, prompting some such as Charles Saatchi to proclaim ‘The Triumph of Painting’ against an obviously implied death. However, the past always fails to end in the present, creating the future of both. Leading painting to become increasingly known as an act with a surface that leaves a lasting impression. In PAUSER, Ry David Bradley has sought to playfully explore these sentiments in a process that suggests and questions the shifting of values within a broader coalescence and re-materialization of cultural mediums.
(1) Faculteit Des Geesteswetenschappen, Right About Now: Remodernism
(2) Wikipedia article for “Flatness”