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D.I.Y. Abstraction

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Lane Relyea considers trends in contemporary painting in relation to "the talent economy."

Relyea addresses the tendency in painting towards "steady, routinized, repetitive labor and use of personal-scale, low-budget materials, and … [an] overall sense of precariousness and impermanence." He argues that "it may be that what most recommends this kind of painting to a place of centrality in our D.I.Y. age is its superior associations with the studio, that artisanal site of making and doing, rather than in the power of painting to induce certain modes of reception like immersion or opticality or semiotic critique. This is especially true of such conspicuously made or crafted paintings, paintings worked on by a single pair of hands, with a plasticity both hard and yet malleable enough to withstand being heavily manipulated while still yielding form. Furthermore, what so enables such work to convey pure doing, to straddle both D.I.Y. and anonymity, to suggest an artisanal performing of subjectivity albeit in an impersonal mode, is precisely that they are paintings, rather than belonging to some other category of art. That is, rather than a special preserve of unique individuality, here painting stands as close as one can get to just doing stuff, purely making things. As Barry Schwabsky writes in the introduction to the recent Phaidon catalog Vitamin P2, 'The ordinariness of painting has become one of its most important characteristics. Painting is so familiar, so well-known that it’s become the default mode of art-making. The ordinary art made by the ordinary artist is likely to be painting.' "

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