Artists in the Modern Age
by Eva Lewarne
Andy Warhol said that he would like to be a machine.
I think Andy Warhol, with his iconization of mass media images, tried to kill painting and art in his glorification of mass media.
He then influenced a whole slew of new artists to continue seeking similarities between traditional religious iconography and modern idols of the screen and advertising – producing many versions of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley for example.
Also Jeff Koons made remarks about how Michael Jackson was a lost Christ figure and created statues of him in that vain, or made Marilyn Monroe look like the Madonna on gold leaf paper, saying these are our new symbols of spirituality. In some sense, that is what mass media was in fact doing: glorifying the images sold by our industrial corporate society.
Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons simply brought it to our awareness.
However, at the same time, they paved the road of art with superficiality, meaninglessness and plastic kitsch. They were enamoured with what the machine produced, and with our superficial, gadget-filled world. They saw that, in our market place, spirituality, deep intellect, philosophy, poetry, simple humanness, and soul couldn’t sell cars… but Marilyn Monroe as a screen sex symbol could.
Artists began trying desperately to compete with the fast pace of mass media. They often lost themselves in the process.
By attempting to be original rather than speaking and creating from an inner truth, their work began to reflect the chaos of the modern age with its glut of meaningless and irrelevant imagery.
Painting is the opposite of mass media.
It requires slowing down, focus and the willingness to allow for your intuition to appreciate the depth, beauty, richness and the full range of emotions of humanness in a work of art. It is not bound by time.
Artists began to feel the pressure of time, and stopped being interested in producing quality – which is time consuming – and instead slapped dashed unfinished work onto large canvasses. Similarly to how we have shortened words and phrases in language in order to produce text messages faster, painting began to look like shortened versions of itself…machines and mass media began to define art and culture in the world instead of art and culture influencing the world.
Artists stopped communicating with the deeper aspects of themselves – their souls – and, like the rest of society, simply began treading water to keep afloat.
In fact, art that showed aspects of the soul of humanness of any kind was scorned as not being fashionable.
Well I don’t want to be in fashion if Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons are dictating that fashion.
They are not my role models.
Paula tells stories with her art – personal, yet universally true. Lucien’s work is powerful and his figures make you look deeply at what it means to have a body. They are speaking their truth with their paintings and that is what makes them great. They are going against the enormous pull of the mass media, machine wave, and remaining true to themselves.
In my art I try to remain true to the little truths discovered in solitary moments which I consciously foster, whatever is of importance in my life and what I have observed in the living of it, be they stories, feelings or moods.
I have the sense that we are losing touch with one another as humans.
We don’t hug each other enough, or if we do it is quick and in passing. By far, we spend more time touching our keyboards than our loved ones – even less our pets, unless they are sitting on our keyboards.
Genuine hugging without an end goal of sex is a deeply enriching exchange of energy that we need in order to feel human, as is authentic conversation, slow paced without the intent of disseminating information. We are glutted with information, but poverty stricken of meaning.
We are coasting along the surface of life trying to be as happy and comfortable as we can, and don’t even realize how empty we feel inside.
In this atmosphere it is difficult to give birth to great art with depth, when people are afraid of their boats being rocked. So they gravitate to kitsch because it is safe…and artists oblige by producing it.
Eva Lewarne was born in Poland and came to Canada after completing high school there. In Canada she attended U of T, then OCAD, majoring in Fine Art. It seems she has been painting forever, and her theme is something she claims a muse dictates through her and that she is not aware of until a body of works emerges. This last body of work Enigma and Illusion are influenced by her many years of meditation practice in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.
About the Creative Life Essays and Stories
“Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done” said John Patrick Shanley. Likewise, Creative Life is a safe place to share ‘unsafe’ things that need to be said.
The stories and interviews from this site share the personal experiences of courage, fear, vulnerability, flow, creativity, and happiness from the perspective of the artist.
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