Tag Archives: Consumerism

On the way to living happily ever after. Or not.

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This marriage chariot is taking couples to a happy marriage. The fairytale kind of partnership, in which they would never have disagreements based on taste. For they have none. Isn’t it a blessing?

Russian luxury is something to behold in awe.

I thought a weekend diversion from thinking about nudes  would be nice, before we get back to them.

Is it your first time here? To sample stuff the blog has on offer, click on ABOUT at the top. You’ll find links to some of my best or typical posts there. There’s an Art & Fun shelf there if you feel like in need of a laugh. And don’t forget you can sign up for my new posts: there’s a “Follow this blog” form on the right.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “On the Way.”

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Power. Sex. Money. Art. Fashion.

Many great artists led a life that was as far from holiness, as the Holy See was from ophthalmology. Yet, many of them got away with a psychic confession that their artistic development was guided by a divine force manifesting itself as a semi-transparent winged creature in primarily (though not exclusively) white robes.

Edgard Tytgat, The Artist and His Muse

Edgard Tytgat, The Artist and His Muse

Some great artists claimed divine interventions into their careers was perpetrated by an Ephemeral Muse, who was as good as an angel but with properly developed breasts and sensual lips. Surprisingly, they were not locked up, even though there were even fewer people who believed in this paganish concept.

A divine force? A God-sent pair of tits embodying inspiration? I can buy it only if artists who entertain such fantasies are also famous for distributing most of their artworks to charities, and living off alms and what is left after art critics vacuum-cleaned snacks provided during opening nights at art galleries. I am yet to meet a non-selfish genius sporting a divine nimbus.

What I can believe in, is a beautiful young lady in flesh and bone with a dialable telephone number and hourly modelling rates which artists would love to have dropped, along with the rule to never share bed with artists for whom she is doing the modelling job.

Most great artists are known to be very conscious about sex, very conscientious about money, and always open to an opportunity to show other artists who is the boss.

Sex, money, power, and sometimes a bitter envy of tall men: these 3.5 wishes (the 0.5 extra is the wish tall men are never photographed to look taller than the artist in a group picture) have been essential assistants to successful creators of empires, masterpieces, and self-help bestsellers since 3000 BC. That’s when the concept of currency emerged in what today is known as Iraq, and the self-help idea manifested itself in the tradition of burying wives with their pharaohs in what today is known as Egypt. Thou shalt not rely on others – however divine – to provide for thee, take thy life after death in thine owen hands.

Don’t take me wrong! I don’t mean a poor artist is necessarily a great one. If no one is buying their art, it is very likely they are not, actually, artists. Ninety five percent of them are pretenders who can convincingly imagine Roman Abramovich queueing to buy artworks they dream to have created. Non-winged creatures of mostly the opposite sex wearing primarily nothing are also known to have frequent cameo appearances in those dreams, along with other artists and taller men groveling in the distance.

The remaining five percent? That’ll be a few good chaps who do decent art but lack marketing neurons in the cortex of their brains. If those marketers who succeed in selling hair-strengthening shampoo to bald men had one tenth of the lowliest artistic talent these five percent of artistic population selfishly keep to themselves, this world would be different at least in the aspect of alien presence. Given that contemporary ufologists believe the flying saucers stashed away in Hangar 18 belonged to unlucky guys who had run out of fuel searching for a decent souvenir to take home, we’d have extraterrestrial lifeforms crawling all over the place brokering art export deals to their planets.

Life (and the principle by which the marketing gland is distributed among the living) is unfair. Our existence won’t have as much fun and crazy dictators in it, were it otherwise.

It would also have no concept of fashion.

Fashion, advanced by luxury brands and retail banks trigger-happy to have you hooked on a loan, is doing a pretty good job of mixing power, sex, and money into marketable items.

We don’t have ETs swarming in on Milano Fashion Week shows not because they find next season ideas insufficiently alien (some of them look convincingly outlandish).

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We are simply parsecs off alien sizing.

Fashion is not simpler to make than most contemporary art. The success secret of fashion is that it is much easier to appreciate than, say, a painting of an artist you’ve never heard of before. If you look sexy, powerful, and rich (at least one of these boxes should be ticked), and don’t itch after wearing for an hour the item you are wearing, the thing is good for you. Recognition of what’s good for them comes easily and naturally to most people, excluding teenagers, Finns, Russians, the girl who sits next to you in the office, and smarty pants who hire stylists (see Disclaimer at the bottom).

Logically, the moment a man has achieved the ideals of money, sex, power, and tall men never photographed to look taller than himself in group pictures, he should stop caring about art and fashion, unless it is a portrait in royal garb or shoes with hidden heels.

Bill Gateses of this world can afford to not care about fashion any more, and the only power they need is electricity to charge their iPads.

Somehow, this logic doesn’t always work.

Take Mr Medvedev, who spent four years as the country’s President before being slightly demoted to Prime Minister (it is still being debated if his presidenship was a promotion in the first place).

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He donned Panthère de Cartier, priced at $900. It is a model for women (men’s model has glasses of a different shape).

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What is the message behind him having two panthers on the bow? I can’t think of something that won’t need the age limit of 21 and a strictly supervised therapy course with prescription pills. Not enough sex, power, money, and mirrors? People can’t see themselves through the eyes of other people, it’s a fact known to any girl who has ever put on red boots with a mini-skirt, gone out, and started agonising over lewd leers instead of theatre invitations. But the second most important man representing a country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council!? I would like to file a protest.

I can understand Elton John, who was wearing the same shades (but the men’s version) when he met Medvedev. He obviously made quite an impression on the semi-royal couple.

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Folks, my national pride is seriously bruised by the PM standing for the women’s line of shades intended for pop-stars and Playboy bunnies. The top minister of a country that has produced more than its fair share of great artists and crazy dictators should know better.

I am also a bit surprised to see Mr Medvedev shaking hands with Sir Elton as homosexuality is believed to be a communicable disease in Russia. It is either a show of enviable courage, or he has been vaccinated against it. I am also mildly surprised to see Sir Elton shaking hands with someone who heads a political party which members believe the hearts of gay people should be burned, posthumously, to prevent spreading the virus. Some radical elements believe posthumously is way too late.

I can’t imagine that Sex or Power motivated Sir Elton to undergo the shaking ceremony. It must have been Money. If it was neither, I may lose faith in the 3.5-wish principle that has been so far an invaluable tool in analysing motivations of contemporary artists. What a loss it would be to art criticism, and to my coming post about Isaac Brodsky!

Disclaimer at the bottom:

In one sentence I seem to have offended a lot of people.

Dear Russians: I am one of you, that is, us.

Dear Finns: Helsinki is not a fashion capital of the world. I am sorry to break it out to you, but it’s time to admit the obvious. You have better things to offer though. You brought Angry Birds into this world!

Dear girl who sits next to someone else in the office: you are the other girl, I meant the girl who sits next to YOU, so don’t get offended. Honest.

People who hire stylists: just don’t get hooked on it. Read my blog on art, develop your art appreciation skills, clean your own mess, make your own choices. Yes, you can!

Teenagers: go ahead, get offended. You’d grow out of it. I mean, out of what you are wearing. At least it is what we, your parents, hope for.

Disclaimer at the very bottom: I know this is not the kind of post my readers expect from me, but sometimes, just as anyone, I need to vent out my frustration, and walking the dog doesn’t help. Tell me if I should stop!

If you really could kick ass

OF SOMEONE WHO IS TO BLAME FOR YOUR FAILINGS AND FIASCOS

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YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SIT DOWN FOR A WEEK.

That’s a bit of free fortune-telling for people complaining about “circumstances” that prevented them from doing something they wanted or had to do.

There’s  a lot of “talent” out there bemoaning expensive marble/canvas/paint, uneducated customers who buy kitsch, and art dealers who take exorbitant commissions and are only interested in selling to basic-instinct oligarchs.

Yes, today’s patrons are investors, interested in the growth of their money, not in the development of their intellect. For most of the Medici art was expenditure. For most of today’s serious art buyers the object they acquire should have net present value and ROI above the current bank rate,

Which means, if you feel you are a great artist, and want to stay one, you may have to wait tables during the day. Then, the only circumstance to complain about would be the size of your tips, and a lack of sleep, but not inability to produce art.

I never thought about myself as a great artist. But I felt myself a pretty good art critic.

And that’s exactly why I thought that complaining about art critics who write senseless sequences of multi-syllable words to camouflage the absence of meaning is punishing my own bottom, which God created to comfortably sit on, not lash at. I could start writing art criticism with simple words, clear illustrations and engaging stories to wrap up art in its context. Snugly resting in the luxury of a wing chair, all the way through the process.

And here I am, churning out posts like this, which seem to be enjoyed by a growing number of visitors across the globe.

Just as your average great artist, to be able to write posts like this, I have to work elsewhere. Not waiting tables, I have to admit, but sometimes I think waiting tables could be an easier option.

Thanks, Daily Prompt, for asking, “Why did you start you blog?”

Because I could do differently what I thought should be done in a different way.

If you find someone perfect, RUN!

Western civilization has always been about perfection. Perfect teeth, perfect body, perfect breasts, perfect hair, perfect relationships. There’s always an ideal within, but a bit out of reach, that, once reached, will make you happy.

Mass media today is all about supplying the ideals, paging them over from producers of toothpaste, shampoos, designer clothes, silicon breasts and penis enlargement pills, who – beyond any reasonable doubt – must have tiny penises, because only these micro-willie bastards can generate so much spam. DIY psychology writers of books about developing perfect relationships are worse, but at least they are not spamming.

Ancient Greeks! Do you hear me? It is you who are to blame for this.

Look at these men from the 5c BC. Aren’t they perfect?

Riace bronzes

Oh, look at the muscles! Look at their tummies… A real man CAN’T have it. Too pronounced, too sort of embossed. But this sculpture had set the ideal that has been pursued with renewed vigor since Renaissance artists got access to unearthed classic art.

Perfect symmetry, perfect balance, perfect proportions. The underlying precepts of the western concept of beauty.

Dead. Non-existent.

Millions of people roam the planet in search of perfection. Perfect women, perfect men, perfect things, perfect places to live, perfect vacations. And, of course, some cheap penis-enlargement pills. Or breast-enlarging procedures. Or a plastic surgeon that will make them a perfect nose. To suffer a perfect congestion of that nose for the rest of their almost-perfectly unhappy lives.

This search for happiness makes people unhappy. Even those who produce the shampoo that sells for billions, because those billions can’t buy those marketers a perfect relationship with their families destroyed in the process of spending most of their time selling shampoos. Is it the Business Week that has been running the misery study for years to discover that the most miserable group of people is senior executives? I think it is.

This is why I love wabi-sabi. It is a Japanese world-view that accepts transience and imperfection. Imperfection makes real individuality possible. 

Imperfection makes history tangible and live:

Accepting imperfection makes us more confident. More able to enjoy things around us.

This is why I accept and adore imperfection. In people I love, in people I meet, in places I visit, in myself. Not as a justification for something (“Oh, of course no one is perfect”), but as a sign that I am sane, the world is real and worth living in.

And this is why I can’t have an answer to the prompt in today’s Daily Post :
Tell us about an imperfection that you cherish.

I cherish imperfection, but without the “an”.

I love art that celebrates imperfection.

And this is why I love Picasso. Impressionists explored transience. But he went so deep into exploring imperfection that no one has been able to say more about it since his times.

Now you understand how I feel about “a perfect landscape”, for instance. Make a wild guess.

And, an afterthought. Think about Rothko. He used to paint colour squares and rectangles. Many people think that’s stupid, they can do it themselves, they can do it in powerpoint, for god’s sake. A kid can do it.

No.

Next time you go to a gallery of modern art, take a close look at Rothko. His colours are never perfect. Not a single square centimetre is made of a perfect colour. Not a single line is perfect. Not a sinlge millimetre of it. Rothko is a celebration of imperfectionism, in abstract form. A celebration of imperfectionist idea.

Because of that, he is impossible to reproduce in print. Because any print removes and kills imperfections. That’s why I am not showing any Rothko here.

Urbanistocrats, high and low art

People who live in large cities are obviously a better people, one nation almost, regardless of their native language. Better than who? Of course, better than people living outside large cities!

Today’s new elite. Global urbanistocrats. Consumers of premium brands, VIP services, High Art, and the words “excquisite” and “consummate”.

Urbanistocrats love seeing people who are not urbanistocrats once or twice a year.

They “escape” to picturesque villages or small towns on their two-week vacations (the longest they can stay away from their large city), and then they fall in love with cutie-cutie spots of nature and old stones of the mayor’s house in the town’s only square. They take out their cameras and start shooting macro snaps of flowers, panoramic spans of rolling hills and romantic pics of each other, with the craze of Taliban fighters having spotted an unprotected Soviet truck convoy.

Having fallen in love, they want to bed the country side. Someone would stop clicking the camera for a second and say, “Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a house here…” and someone else would reply, “Yeah… but what would you do here? It’s a village, you’ll have get bored to death in a month!”. The disappointed echo of multiple “yeah’s” usually follows.

Night clubs, theatres, restaurants, art galleries. You don’t have their vibe in a village. And no, that joint 5 miles away is not a night club, you have to bring your own cocktails and go-go dancers to get closer to the real thing.

It doesn’t matter, really, that no one from this urbanistocratic group goes to night clubs any more. Theatres are a once-a-year occasion, art exhibitions happen just as often as vacant cabs on a Saturday night. But an urbanistocrat needs to know all this is within immediate reach, otherwise they feel restless and anxious about their future like a sea bass being carried from its fish tank to the kitchen.

Urbanistocrats may spend two hours in a traffic jam to get to a gym to cycle for half an hour on an exercise bike.

A typical traffic jam in Moscow

They buy live trees to decorate the insides of their flats in the stone jungles of human zoo that’s called a Megalopolis. They are always in motion. If you see an urbanistocrat sitting calmly on a bench and staring at nothing (that is, staring at anything which is not a Blackberry or Ipad), don’t hesitate to call 911 for medical assistance.

Rural people are slow and funny. A half of urban jokes ridicules farmers lost in a large city.

A farmer hails a cab.
– Take me to the Principle.
– To where?!
– To the principle. They say, in a large city you can get anything, in principle.

Rural people are dense when it comes to the matters of a higher order of human existence. Of course, a well-bred urbanistocrat will never admit it openly, but would snigger at a villager who can’t recognise Prada by its red strip, Gucci shoes by their buckles, Jil Sander by the sophisticated purity of its silhouette, and Ann Demeulmeister by the gothic tattoos of its wearer.

A villager understands nothing about High Art. Rothko makes rural people sad, because they think a nice painting has just been painted over, and start anxiously looking at the crowd around hoping to spot the vandal. Remember to always wash your hands clean of any paint before visiting a modern art gallery! Better remove nail polish too. You don’t want to be the suspect when it comes to rural people!

No, it’s just a Rothko and photograph next to it. Do not attempt scratching a Rothko next time you see it!

If you give a Pollock to a farmer, he’d suggest you take a special laxative herbal tincture to rinse your mind.

Jackson Pollock, Convergence – 1952

Appreciation of simple, but sophisticated things? Like, poem-deserving flowers, sunsets over corn-fields, or a nightingale song? Rural people are obtuse in this department. They say they see and hear it too often! Can you believe it? Compare them to an urbanistocrat, who gets exposed to a print of Rothko in his living room lounge ten times a day, and is never tired of marvelling at it, and telling her friends that she marvels at a Rothko print each time she sees it. Oh, that awesome borderline between dark red and light red! More than awesome, agrees a fellow urbanistocrat.

Even worse, rural people are hypersensitive to trivial stuff. They tend to wow at skyscrapers and Bugatti Veyrons, oblivious of the smirks on the faces of true urbanistocrats brusquely walking to and from their offices.

And – hold your breath – rural people often believe in God, weather reports, and think O’Bama might be half-Irish. It is very easy to make rural people believe anything. They are exquisitely naive, even if they can’t understand the subtlety of this description.

There’s just one tiny problem with urbanistocrats. If 100% of marketing directors or gallery curators suddenly disappear, 0% of farmers would feel the loss the next day. But if farmers walk away for a season?

As I load foods into the back of my car, I can’t stop thinking that there’s something false about the culture that made worshipped idols out of Rothko or Pollock, regardless of how great they were as artists. And surely, a lot is wrong about the culture that turns Damien Hirst and Jeff Koonz into even bigger gods.

Mass Media implicitly raises urbanistocrats over all other kinds of people, but why then I want to punch the more urbanistocratic of them when I see one, especially talking about High Art versus low art? Should I enroll into an anger management programme? Or buy a knuckle-duster?

Corrupting pop art

Having received the commandments,
Moses comes down from Mount Sinai to his people.
He says to the nervously waiting crowd,
“I have good and bad news for you, guys”.
“What’s the good news?”
“We agreed to cut if off at TEN”, answers Moses.
“And what’s the bad news?”
“Adultery is in”

Matisse wanted art to provide serenity to the viewer; Picasso wanted art to brush the daily dust off our souls; Oscar Wilde thought art was the only way to realise our perfection. We have gone a long way in our understanding of art since then, and now it includes everything, even the empty space of a gallery.

Pop art especially has migrated a long way from what it used to be. At the beginning, it was art that wanted to be understandable by the ordinary public. Entertaining, emotional, nice, fun, whatever. Something that does not require a curator to stand by and explain what it all means, what the artist wanted to say, etc. Generally, it was about good things. At the beginning.

Today, pop art is about two main things:

  • imagery that helps to create desire for expensive stuff produced by premium brand owners
  • imagery that provides justification for various sins with a focus on adultery
  • imagery that helps to start hating your current life and habits and then to start desiring expensive stuff to be used to get more power, money and sex

Today’s popular (exhibited and selling) pop art is addressed primarily to men, and it is about women, sex and adultery – but never about love and simplicity.

And what is the best place to exhibit it? The focus of glamour and sin of course, the small village of Courchevel 1850 in the French Alps!

This year, they show these creations by DAVID CINTRACT, a Parisienne artist who created “a glamorous and slightly nonchalant young woman but one who is full of self-confidence and many surprises. This is Mademoiselle Courchevel”, as the village’s web site proudly announces.

Yes. Of course. Many surprises. In a ski resort teeming with prostitutes (oh, not prostitutes, but the girl-friends, imported by rich men from all over the third-world countries for “company”), the biggest surprise would be the price tag this “company” involves. A few years ago, Lyon police arrested one of Russia’s biggest oligarchs and a dozen (or a few dozens) of girls he airlifted to this village. A Russian Xmas party a few years ago featured two men framing the entry to a nightclub, with two girls giving them rhythmic blow jobs. All for the excitement of the entering guests.

Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstan tourists absolutely love this art, for it provides the ideal and justification for their lives. They photograph themselves in front of these girls and rarely a moment can be seen when people are not queueing to be pictured with it.

I expect there’s a special department in hell for artists like David Cintract, really. Not for helping oligarchs find their girlfriends, but for making it attractive and desirable.

Nabolelo: Subject Matter and Contemporary Art

NABOLELO! This is the word Russians often use to explain or excuse themselves for saying something out of turn or reacting to something with a tidal wave of swearing. Frequently, both.

“Nabolelo!” means there’s an issue that caused your mind to bloat with emotional suffering and pain to the point of bursting and spattering everything around you (with profanities capable of making characters from the Deadwood series blush, prostrate in awe and give up all the gold they’d panned out). You must say what you feel about the issue which caused the mental bloating to prevent the bursting disaster. You must let it out immediately, intubating yourself, like they were doing it on the ER to other people.

“Nabolelo” is a bit ashamed of the neighbourhood it has to live in, but in all other respects it is an exemplary citizen of the Russian vocabulary.

“Nabolelo” comes royalty free. If you wish to use it, remember to put emphasis on the third syllable out of respect for Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

This lengthy introduction is my excuse for writing a post about contemporary art that I didn’t want to write right now. What I am about to say is far from the main theme of the blog, is 49% serious and 1% related to meteorology. It would be a waste of a perfect “Nabolelo” if you decide to stop now.

So, “NABOLELO!”

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