Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

24 December 2013

Critique vs. Cronyism

Originally published November 4, 2006


My Latin professor, Clemens Mueller, has pointed out to me that there were Sophists and there were Sophists. There is an element of legitimacy in their appreciation of the fact that there are no ultimate answers in a Platonic sense. However, I stand by my Socratic disgust at their vision of argumentation as only a charade, of sorts, and their desire to teach its workings as career advancement, with active avoidance of any consideration for whether it tries to refer to any truth. The point is not to nail down one truth, in any transcendental sense, but in a highly pragmatic, moral sense to try to tell the truth(s) --- plural may be necessary there

A recent comment exchange at Bad At Sports got me to thinking, once again, about basic misunderstandings in the artworld arising from the fact that so many artworldians see everything in careerist, KC terms. Never stepping outside that frame to imagine that it has ever or could ever be otherwise.

A badly pseudonymed comment writer states that he, or she, is surprised that "Holy Shit! There is someone in town Wesley does not hate!" because Kimler compliments Hamza Walker to an extent. Kimler replys that,

"Excuse me, The Shark doesn’t hate -he simply dines on what is weak. And it just so happens perhaps as mere coincidence, that what is weak in the Chicago Art World happens to be much of what could be described as the official, institutionally sanctioned version of what takes place here. An egregious and slanted version of events, of which, Hamza is an apologist and, proponent.
Its all about context. Do you accept the official version of what is important here, and what kind of art you should make to address these same concerns as career opportunity, or, as an artist, do you create your own context, based upon what you feel is legitimate and important."

The previous commentor, who I think is actually trying in his own small way to give Wesley the benefit of the doubt, still does NOT however get it. He answers, "So who, other than you and people who directly are working in your interest, are important, in your opinion?"

Kimler answers with a list of various people, who share no Consensus Correct style, but that is not the point to my blog-post here. The mere fact that the pseudonymed-one feels it necessary to include the phrase "other than you and people who directly are working in your interest" in his question reveals the light in which he himself sees, or probably has been school-trained to see, the world and art.

Instead of a "Freudian slip" I would like to consider his a Neo-Academic slip. He cannot envision that Kimler would like any art not "working in his interest." He seems to envision, reading between the rather facile lines, that those of us involved in Sharkforum are somehow simply an alternative clique who also share a style. Look, Pseudy-baby, try LOOKING instead of listening and memorizing. My work --- very easy to find all over internet (, e.g.) and in various museums and so on --- Tony Fitzpatrick's, David Roth', Steve Litsios', Leonard Bullock's, Raoul Deal's, Alex Meszmer's, Ray Pride's, etc. etc. etc. DO NOT a "school make." We are highly disparate, sharing a clarity of vision and big mouths. Rebellious, I suppose. But it all does not LOOK as similar as the consensus style work does. In no way. Try looking, it would be a new exciting action in the so-called "visual" artworld. I'm a fucking intellectual, vernacular, pop-ish, Big Beat, quasi-conceptual installation/painter. That is not expressionism in any form now known to humanity. Wesley himself has not really been an expressionist since his earliest works, and those were in a dialogue with Action Painting, not Neo-Ex. Perhaps the commenter did not mean it in that fashion, I'll try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it reminds me other ill-informed moans I have heard from Certain Camps about Kimler, Sharkforum, other Sharks and me (only out of Chicago by the way, not the rest of the world), so to those folks, stop trying to limit the artworld to a tiny little pendulum-like battle between Neo-Ex and Neo-Con. That battle is long over. It died in the 80s, as did Conceptualism in my opinion too. That dichotomy is a straw-man propped up and knocked down repeatedly by Neo-Cons to try and disingenuously make their reactionary academicism appear revolutionary, albeit only in their own minds.

I am not "working in his interest" even though I appreciate his painting as well as his critique and vision. Especially due to my art history training, my cosmopolitan life, and hell, just my attitude, my tastes are wide and catholic (in the original sense, look it up). I take it, that as Kimler and I and others here interact more and more, showing together as planned, and so on, that we will certainly cross-pollinate to an extent, but that is the intrinsic, NATURAL fashion for it to occur (as opposed to memorizing rules laid down by non-artistic pundits), and I doubt we will ever be much more similar than Picabia and Duchamp were or Kandinsky and Klee or Picasso and Matisse to name other artists who happily interacted and influenced one another. Certainly never as mundanely akin as the Neo-Academicians are.

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