Three months ago I attended a discussion at Hunter College called “…towards meaning in a plural painting world.” The panel sought to examine today’s multiplicity of painting styles and determine if this is a positive or dilutive development for painting’s meaning as a whole. Last Wednesday, the Pratt Institute took on similar subject with a panel titled Painting Matters Now: a Conversation.
Moderated by artist Nancy Grimes, she explained this panel had come out of “conversations I had with colleagues about the state of painting,” in which they asked each other “Why are young artists choosing to paint, despite attempts to drive a stake through painting? Why does one medium attract so much malice, particularly in the academy?” The focus of this panel was thus on “What matters with painting now and why?” She began by asking the panel, comprised of painters Greg Drasler, Laurie Fendrich, John Dubrow and painter-cum-writers Mario Naves and Peter Plagens, to talk about their formative years as young artists.
And here I always understood that the issue with the primacy of painting (i.e., that painting is a zombie medium) was not that it was painting and painting was easy-not-easy for baby artists, but that painting was perceived as easy by baby artists and, therefore, lack rigor, thought, and creativity.
It’s not like conceptual, thought-provoking artists aren’t still making art (young, old, and in-between); it’s that there are a bunch of people who want to be considered artists who don’t want to put the effort into painting that it requires/demands.
It’s like Freshman Composition students who always want to write about legalizing marijuana. It’s not that there aren’t things to say, necessarily, it’s that–to say them and add to the conversation–requires so much more time, space, and patience than your average Freshman Composition student has.