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Moritz Miel
Artist | Professional | Traditional Art
Germany
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Now it's time for the second issue of "Art and Theory".
First of all thanks to *Zablocki for his contribution and group-feature and also many thanks to *EricKuns for his comment!

PART ONE
-  Reply to *EricKuns and his subjectivistic definition of art -

"For some art is about spirituality, for some it's self-exploration, for others it's political commentary, for others it can be just making something cool, and there are as many different reasons as there are styles. Grandiose definitions of art, or serious art with a capital "A" are just artificial delineations projected one something that's much more fluid and varied."
Just look at the world of music. You can't apply the same standard to pop music, rap, country, prog, classical, qawwali, klezmer, reggae, jazz, electronic, soul, folk, gazals
I'm a lover of music, so the idea of having one dominant paradigm for music, and ticking off the stuff that didn't fit as inadequate or inconsequential is lame. I don't want any of the styles I enjoy to disappear.I don't see why we should view visual art and related art any differently."


A summary of your arguments (as I understand them):
Any style has its right to exist. You define art-style in analogy to music
           - as cubism, surrealism,  realism, hyperrealism, symbolism, etc. (pop, rap, country,...).
Visual art and other arts should be seen as the same - for example music as art.
There are infinite numbers of reasons to paint - and this in relation to the infinite number of
          (possible) styles.
Grandiose and exact/scientific (serious?) definition of art is impossible, in the best case
           artificial because art is hard/impossible to grasp because of its fluid/manifold nature.
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You are absolutely right to point out that every "style" has its right to exist and cubism is not "more artistic" than realism.
We have to be precise here: to have an clear and affirmative theory of art, does not mean to draw the line between "good" and "bad" art between styles, but rather within its borders.
To be more precise "good" and "bad" are not even appropriate concepts to describe art. You only can tell if its art or not, as you only can tell if a chair is a chair or not (sure, there are many kinds of chairs, but I think you could differentiate between a chair and a table).
We have to get rid of the idea that if we do not produce art it has to be crap. There are wonderful works out there I admire, I would buy, which are created very skilled and/or are made with brisk childish honesty, but I never would hang in an art-gallery. Decorativeness is no sufficient definition of art.
Neither is functionality: A carpenter, who has built a beautiful chair out of wonderful wood for our living-room, has surely done a great job, but it's not art per se.
If it's art to make tools, to dress the hair, to be a good manager, to do whatever to whatever purpose, then art is everything and therefore nothing.

True Art
Art and the edge of things
"True" defined as the point where you are faithful to the "event of rap", where you hit the core of the concept "rap", where you bring its inner potential out in the light.
You can promote this till the point of the "minimal difference". The point where your rap-song is just rap, a little bit less and it wouldn't be rap no more, but another concept.
Art is about checking out, to exhaust, to walk along the borders of the concept of art.
It's more a walk on a tightrope than destruction, and it never is walking on safe grounds.

Art and its material
Art can never be reduced to the material (color, style, etc.) used for its creation nor to its creator (his intention and skill, his psyche are not sufficient to describe the result as art). To be art - there has to be an irreducible rest in it, which cannot be explained by the things, which were already there before its creation. To be art - there has to be something new.
To avoid a spiritualistic interpretation: this does not mean, that this irreducible rest is irreducible because of its otherworldly/supernatural characteristics.
But it is irreducible because it provides us with the frame with which we can understand its context.
It's not the context that helps us to understand a work of art. It is the artwork which helps us to understand the context (a historic one, an psychological one, the art-market,...etc.).
Therefore it relates to a perspective, a standpoint, and a point of truth.
Well you could object: isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder - and therefore purely subjective?
You would be right
But first is beauty all that art is about?
- and second: if beauty is in the eye of the beholder - is art not rather the point of view between them (two beholders), the point of view no one thought of (before the artwork has been created)? The point of view we are now able to take, since the artwork gave us the proper frame?

At this point I would like to conclude:
"Art is in the eye of the beholder."
- Does not mean that - art can only be interpreted (be defined as art) through the eyes of the beholder.
- But rather - you can only proper interpret the beholder (and his context) through the eyes of the artwork.



My version of the arguments of * EricKuns

Any style has its right to exist. There are different styles of artistic expression and all of them
           are of equal value.
There is art and there is non-art and its border can be defined as being "faithful to a particular
           artistic event"
There are infinite numbers of reasons to paint - but "reasons" are not "art per se", cause art is
           not functional (it can be - but it's whether a necessary nor a sufficient definition)
A grandiose and exact definition of art is not only possible but absolutely necessary (surely not
           at the level of styles)
Art is indeed impossible to grasp but this doesn't mean that a definition of art is impossible
          - on the contrary: this intangible nature lies at the core of the definition of art
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To give a short reply to *Zablocki (a longer one will follow shortly):

If the purpose of a painting is to help us understand the world around us - no explanation is necessary.
Nevertheless an explanation wouldn't contradict a truly artistic work.
Perhaps it would be more precise if we didn't call it  an "explanation of the artwork" but rather an "communicative exploration of the artistic event behind it".
The deadlock here for me is this: can an event, a truth be explored through communication? Is truth relational?
I think an artwork does not relate to anything else but itself and therefore should be cherished as an aim in itself.
The purpose of this journal is to examine the relationship of artwork with theory in general with a focus on paintings in particular.
While there are plenty of articles and books about various theories of art, I do not aim at constructing a new theoretical framework, but instead examining my own existing concepts (may they be conscious or unconscious) and strip them off reactionary and conservative elements I may be not aware of yet.

By talking to many people about art, including some excellent artists, I stumbled over many immature, crude or even false and idiotic and reactionary conceptions of art. I think myself as committed to art but as great my love for art is, as great is my interest to demarcate true art from mere art-production and the art-market.
Intuitively it should be clear, that pink ponies and unicorns flying around are neither surreal artworks nor can be considered as art in general.
There are many examples of this kind, but this is a common phenomenon I came across on deviant-art.

The initial spark for this journal-series was a short conversation with *Zablocki and others here on deviantart through commenting each others artworks.
I then began to read the Manifest of the "Stuckists" (see also www.stuckism.com/) in search for a renewed conception of Avant-Garde.
Whereas I was intrigued by its radical manifest, I nevertheless felt intuitively repelled by some statements like the goal of Remodernism shall be "a new spirituality in art" or "painting is the medium of self-discovery".  True art has nothing to do with spirituality or exploring the mind of the artist. The first notion relates to a rather "romanticistic" understanding of art, whereas the latter relates to art as therapy (a rather psychologistic understanding). If there is a definition of modernism it is "the time where the death of the Big Other became evident" (a rather existential definition).
Another common problem is the simple (at first sight) question of whether one should use titles in paintings or any contextual information to "explain" their art (for example a story "behind" the image, an story about the process of creation, about the mind of the artist, etc. ).

I felt that just answer with two or three sentences to each of them wouldn't suffice to explore the complexity of art, so I choose this format as a more general attempt to clear some questions.
To give a glimpse on what will or could come, I name a few theorists whose contributions to an philosophical understanding of art I consider as essential:
Martin Heidegger, Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan, Friedrich Nietzsche and Slavoj iek.

To conclude this first entry I would like to quote Alain Badiou speaking about "the Good" and "the Truth" (two terms which are very important in relation to art!):
"My philosophy desires affirmation. I want to fight for; I want to know what I have for the Good and to put it to work. I refuse to be content with the "least evil." It is very fashionable right now to be modest, not to think big. Grandeur is considered a metaphysical evil. Me, I am for grandeur, I am for heroism. I am for the affirmation of the thought and the deed." ( Badiou, Alain. "On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou." in: Cabinet. Issue 5, Winter 2001/2002).

PS I would love to develop these thoughts further in an active and constructive exchange of arguments with you!
So comments on this and following issues are more than welcome! :)

Thank you my friends and fellow-artists!
Interview with Moritz - brainstorming paintings


Custos

- Your paintings are full of different allusions which are not easy to interpret. Do you think it is important to understand these references in order to enjoy the artwork?

Moritz

-There are things you know you know. There are things you know you don't know. There are things you don't know you know and there are even things you don't know that you don't know. This is not only true in relation to our knowledge but also to art itself, art-production and art-interpretation. We do not know anything and our only lifeline is that we have our free will and can make our own decisions. What is intriguing in good art is that it represents some kind of truth, some element of the real we cannot fully integrate into ourselves. Something that does not fit into our everyday reality and makes us stop and wonder.


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