Thursday, May 13, 2021

Sanya Kantarovsky, Camille Blatrix at Modern Art


Artists engaging in traditional crafts, marquetry and woodblock. But tradition was wiped out by the invention of capitalist plastic. Labor was reduced to work, and craft became manufacturing processes, became laser cut wood, CNC milled blocks, a thousand interns on call. Suddenly your dreams could be injection molded. Ostensibly. And these are two artists who's importance is the plasticity of style - the sort of whatever possibility of plastic goos, bent for artistic purposing. New images in old habits. So it's odd then to have a press release calling the whole thing into question, a excerpt from a 1906 book of traditional wood crafts lamenting novelty:

"If there is one quality which more than another marks the demand of the present day it is the requirement of novelty. ...the question is not, 'Is this fresh thing good? Is it well-fitted for its intended uses?' but 'Is it novel?' ... dispens[ing] with tradition, and ... set forth with childlike naïveté. Careful study of these experiments discloses the fact that .... the undigested use of natural motifs results not in nourishment but in nightmare"

This would all depend on whether we believe this art to be "undigested designs indifferently executed which have little but a fancied novelty to recommend them.” Not a "...a saner view of what constitutes originality by setting before them something of the experience of past times, when craft tradition was still living and the designer had a closer contact with the material in which his design was carried out than is usual at present." Surely this is not today. But there's something I'm not willing to throw away with the show. Somehow its uselessness seems the point, an abuse of interest. 

see too: Sanya Kantarovsky at Marc FoxxCamille Blatrix at Wattis