Artists' statements are an affliction of the age: artists of the Abstract Expressionists period were content to write vague generalizations about their work and no one thought less of them for doing so. In short, artists have succumbed to the plague of hyper-information: the mystery is off the rose. Today visual artists live in a time when their haptic sensibilities (guided by the fragile nature of neomorphic imaginings) are in danger of losing the significance of their silence. Artists need to be taken more seriously than words can express.

The poetry of pictorial form is not a literary one, nor does it follow the emotional syntax of literature -- even poetry, but a visceral one that makes itself felt before the third person distortion of written language asserts its authority. A culture addicted to the authority of words alone cannot grasp the numinous vitality of visual art, a form of communication that existed well before words. Most visual artists transmute words by not using them. More, true artists understand the authority of spoken or written language but their creativity is in the realm of physical signs and symbols, color and forms, not the conceptual tradition of written expression. Literature is an a posteriori response to experience while visual art is an a priori view of the world. Further, words are not required to understand the noumenalistic nature of authentic art, be it visual or otherwise. In literature aesthetic gravitas is not in what is written but what is omitted and implied in the content and context of the narrative. Like music, visual art is a preverbal experience.

As the reader can see I have reservations about artists' statements as a perquisite for being taken seriously. I have known artists who are clumsy with written text, for which I have the greatest respect. The western bias towards the authority of the word in the realm of visual art is pernicious and at best naïve. The ones that I have read veer either toward nebulous autobiography or tortured hyperbole, being a self-congratulatory cadenza of purple passages, dour minimalism or narcissctic gibberish.


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