Brian Dupont: Artist's Texts

An artist's writings on art.

What Can I Learn From a Housafire?

Just after finishing my very first blog post and sending it off to my editor, I stumbled into a bizarre bit of serendipity. I stopped into the Winkleman Gallery to catch Olympia Lambert’s Happy Gallerina performance as part of Hashtagclass.  I wound up talking to critic Sarah Schmerler, who was in the gallery figuring out how her project to provide artists with artist’s statements would work.  One of the things that got me started writing this blog was a Twitter conversation about artist’s statements and how agonizing they could be to write, and here was a critic offering to write them for artists for free.  We ended up setting up a small table in the corner and hashing out what my work is about and what she would say about it, while trying not to disturb the Happy Gallerina, who was herself navigating the perimeter of Man Bartlett’s huge pile of balloons. As Sarah described, in came Jerry Saltz and the next thing I know I’m getting a critique from my BlackBerry (you can see those paintings here.)

While trying to respond to Jerry’s questions I felt like an underweight sparring partner for a prize fighter.  I tried to slow down and get what I wanted to say out accurately, but he was already into another question, and I was constantly off balance.  I don’t mean to make it sound as if he was rude, or not listening to my answers, and I also don’t want it to sound like I wouldn’t do it again in a second.  It was tough, but it was also a great experience, and I know how lucky I am to stumble into this interaction (that crazy interactions like this one are part of what Hashtagclass are designed to promote is what makes it so interesting and successful).  The most difficult thing he asked was what I think the greatest weakness of my work is.  Even more difficult is what he thought the greatest weakness of my work is.

To me it’s how I fetishize trying to get the surface and picture “right,” overworking a painting and losing what was interesting about it in the first place.  He thought (and I’m paraphrasing here) that I am not working with the concerns of my generation, that I’m too caught up in working with ideas and surfaces that the Post-minimalists have already covered.  I’m not sure that’s fair, but while looking at images off of a 360 x 480 pixel screen without any other context (dates, sizes, etc.) he still managed to lock into some of my central formal concerns.  As I headed home (to my editor) I started to think about Post-minimalism and my relation to it, something that’s been on my mind since Saltz’s wife, Roberta Smith, used her Times editorial to call for changes in what work is being shown in New York museums.  I started to think that I had something else to think and write about.  How serendipitous is that?

While I’m trying to figure out how to tackle that, get over to Hashtagclass if you can.  If you’re an artist who wrestles with and agonizes over your artist’s statements, make sure to check out Sarah Schmerler’s session at 6:30 on Wednesday, March 17th.  I was always told that no one would write a statement for me, but if you get there early enough she will.


Written by Brian Dupont

March 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

One Response

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  1. i too had a similar FB crit with JS. same ultimate comment. mayeb not working in issue of time. my paintings come from healing from post partum depression. that is an issue in my time. he told me to make everyone else see it. it is very nice of him to give this much of his time to artists. and he does stir the pot. i too have been thinking about roberta’s call for painters ~ the art form that dare speak it’s name. good to be challenged even more, and i am thankful.


    March 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm

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