Painting’s Iconophilia

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Mark Stone argues that the image and the being it communicates is missing in contemporary abstract painting.

Stone writes: "In the 21st Century the subject of our painting, especially abstraction, is not directed at the lives we live, or more specifically, at the world that we see and experience. Rather we abstract painters have been more concerned about eradicating visual confrontation with being/images. We are more comfortable with warped re-presentations of style. We prefer the documentation of our painting processes over the depiction of visual things. The rhetoric around this iconoclasm is just as predictable. It’s usually accomplished when the artist states that the process, even though it is the subject of the painting, is actually inconsequential, a byproduct. We no longer deny the accidental as Pollock famously did. We claim no control of the image, no framing of the processes. The Postmodern artist removes himself from processes altogether, claiming that the artist is not, should not be, involved in the making of images whatsoever. The painting, the document, becomes a found object. The recent retro-tinged conversations online over Wade Guyton’s use of a printer in making his handsomely banal abstract paintings is a perfect example of the intellectual emptiness of this current moment. The point is to remove the icon maker, and in doing that, to remove the icon. It’s almost as if one can only paint if one intends not to do so. Since the sanctification of Duchamp at the beginning of our Postmodern era, every painting emerging from our studios comes equipped with its own mustache."

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