Monday, February 15, 2010


Live Stock Salesmen 2001, 12 X 18" acrylic on paper.

The other morning I woke up with the unmistakable ache of a night spent clenching my teeth in my sleep.

The previous evening I had attended an opening at an art museum in Montreal. A rare event for me but an acquaintance was having his first museum show.

It triggered enough anxiety for a night of gnashing.

Despite the scope and significance of his show, my friend wasn’t the star attraction of the evening. Another young Canadian with an even larger international stamp of approval was the main draw.

The latter was a contrived and clumsily executed mish mash of apparent interest to the indie-hipster community.

As my girlfriend Hayley and I bumped through the crowds and tried to make sense of the exhibits it began to dawn that there was little sense to be made.

I tried to imagine my own work in the grand museum spaces and couldn’t.

Photorealists have become the lamplighters of contemporary art. What began as a serious offshoot of pop art’s light hearted mockery, photorealism has become bogged down by the superficiality that comes from an obsessive interest in technique.

Most photorealists live in a world blindered to the realities of the mainstream art world, weighed down by the notion of craftsmanship, of narrative. The notion of right and wrong. The hierarchy of skill lurking in the psyche.

My night at the museum pointed out for me the depth of the gulf between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Digital photographs printed on canvas and scumbled with glazes or otherwise manipulated by hand in some minor way are de rigeur these days. There is little disclosure made by artists and galleries of the largely mechanical nature of these works.

The question in my mind is, if the art world doesn’t care how an image is made, what does photorealism offer the world of contemporary art?

If it offers only technical proficiency then we’re all in trouble. There has to be more to a painting than a well rendered surface.

Art should speak to people beyond the walls of the compound. What are you saying and why should anyone care?