Monday, 4 April 2016

Stuckists (To Be Or Not To Be)

(est. 1999)
"Your paintings are stuck,
you are stuck!
Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!"
Tracey Emin
Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego-artist.
  1. Stuckism is the quest for authenticity. By removing the mask of cleverness and admitting where we are, the Stuckist allows him/herself uncensored expression.

  2. Painting is the medium of self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.

  3. Stuckism proposes a model of art which is holistic. It is a meeting of the conscious and unconscious, thought and emotion, spiritual and material, private and public. Modernism is a school of fragmentation — one aspect of art is isolated and exaggerated to the detriment of the whole. This is a fundamental distortion of the human experience and perpetrates an egocentric lie.

  4. Artists who don’t paint aren’t artists.

  5. Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art.

  6. The Stuckist paints pictures because painting pictures is what matters.

  7. The Stuckist is not mesmerised by the glittering prizes but is wholeheartedly engaged in the process of painting. Success to the Stuckist is to get out of bed in the morning and paint.

  8. It is the Stuckist’s duty to explore his/her neurosis and innocence through the making of paintings and displaying them in public, thereby enriching society by giving shared form to individual experience and an individual form to shared experience.

  9. The Stuckist is not a career artist but rather an amateur (amare, Latin, to love) who takes risks on the canvas rather than hiding behind ready-made objects (e.g. a dead sheep). The amateur, far from being second to the professional, is at the forefront of experimentation, unencumbered by the need to be seen as infallible. Leaps of human endeavour are made by the intrepid individual because he/she does not have to protect their status. Unlike the professional, the Stuckist is not afraid to fail.

  10. Painting is mysterious. It creates worlds within worlds, giving access to the unseen psychological realities that we inhabit. The results are radically different from the materials employed. An existing object (e.g. a dead sheep) blocks access to the inner world and can only remain part of the physical world it inhabits, be it moorland or gallery. Ready-made art is a polemic of materialism.

  11. Post-Modernism, in its adolescent attempt to ape the clever and witty in modern art, has shown itself to be lost in a cul-de-sac of idiocy. What was once a searching and provocative process (as Dadaism) has given way to trite cleverness for commercial exploitation. The Stuckist calls for an art that is alive with all aspects of human experience; dares to communicate its ideas in primeval pigment, and possibly experiences itself as not at all clever!

  12. Against the jingoism of Brit Art and the ego-artist. Stuckism is an international non-movement.

  13. Stuckism is anti ‘ism’. Stuckism doesn’t become an ‘ism’ because Stuckism is not Stuckism, it is stuck!

  14. Brit Art, in being sponsored by Saatchi, mainstream conservatism, and the Labour government, makes a mockery of its claim to be subversive or avant-garde.

  15. The ego-artist’s constant striving for public recognition results in a constant fear of failure. The Stuckist risks failure wilfully and mindfully by daring to transmute his/her ideas through the realms of painting. Whereas the ego-artist’s fear of failure inevitably brings about an underlying self-loathing, the failures that the Stuckist encounters engage him/her in a deepening process which leads to the understanding of the futility of all striving. The Stuckist doesn’t strive — which is to avoid who and where you are — the Stuckist engages with the moment.

  16. The Stuckist gives up the laborious task of playing games of novelty, shock and gimmick. The Stuckist neither looks backwards nor forwards but is engaged with the study of the human condition. The Stuckists champion process over cleverness, realism over abstraction, content over void, humour over wittiness and painting over smugness.

  17. If it is the conceptualist’s wish to always be clever, then it is the Stuckist’s duty to always be wrong.

  18. The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea. The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.

  19. Crimes of education: instead of promoting the advancement of personal expression through appropriate art processes and thereby enriching society, the art school system has become a slick bureaucracy, whose primary motivation is financial. The Stuckists call for an open policy of admission to all art schools based on the individual’s work regardless of his/her academic record, or so-called lack of it.

  20. We further call for the policy of entrapping rich and untalented students from at home and abroad to be halted forthwith.

    We also demand that all college buildings be available for adult education and recreational use of the indigenous population of the respective catchment area. If a school or college is unable to offer benefits to the community it is guesting in, then it has no right to be tolerated.

  21. Stuckism embraces all that it denounces. We only denounce that which stops at the starting point — Stuckism starts at the stopping point!

Billy Childish
Charles Thomson


Ella Guru remains a force within the art world. Her images consistently challenge the way we view the world, the way we think. Often using provocative images which set themselves up as a mirror on accepted societal mores. In may ways it is much like when David Bowie entered our world showing us that we outsiders were in fact, a much larger proportion of society. That there were as many of us as those of a more conservative nature.

Along with personal choices and tastes, sexual ambiguity and  deviancy are her constant subject matter. Much of her work is taken from commissions.

As an artist, she paints more than one genre. She manages to escape easy identification although many would present her as of being 'outsider' art. I rather think she is neither one thing or another, she is merely herself and as such sees individuality as being something to champion.

This is from her web page...

Amongst my models are the Baron and Missy Macabre, known respectively for gravity-defying nipple-lifting and bathing in broken glass; Ghost-train-hostess- and-theatrical-sorceress Marisa Carnesky and performer-musician Rasp Thorne; and clubs like Shore Leave, a sailor-themed club held mainly at the George Tavern in Whitechapel, where real sailors cavorted with prostitutes over several centuries, and Gypsy Hotel, the Urban Voodoo Machine’s unique Bourbon Soaked Snake Charmin’ Rock’n’Roll Cabaret club.
  Diana and Actaeon . .
The Punishment of  Actaeon

Perverse? Rather depends on your viewpoint as much as your taste. After all, one person's perversity is another person's pleasure. 

Charles Thompson is one of two who formed Stuckism in 1999. The other was Billy Childish. It was in reaction to the highly successful, hugely popular BritArt movement to which Thompson and Billy Childish were opposed. It was in many ways a similar reaction to that of Punk against Prog Rock. A return to basics. Figurative art not conceptual art.

I find that as much as I lean toward figurative art I cannot entirely bring myself to despise, or even dislike, conceptual art. I struggle with it. It often seems a case of the 'Emperor's New Clothes.' That if you don't understand it you are then qualified as stupid, of somehow less sensitive to creativity. That is utter bilge. Seeing a stack of straw presented as art takes zero effort in creativity and can only be dismissed as what it is, food for rabbitts. The one thing it is not, conceptual or otherwise, is art. That said, what do Stuckists make of Gilbert and George? I think the two G's are brilliant. The most certainly are artists and their work is funny, challenging and a delight to view. So too are The Chapman Brothers whose work I find as riveting as it is shocking. I could not dismiss either of these artists as not being proper artists. I also take issue with point four of the Stuckists Manifesto. 

Artists who don’t paint aren’t artists.

What about Potters? Sculptors? Animists? Kinetic Art? Music? Film? Are they unworthy merely because they don't throw paint onto canvas? In fairness, since writing that Manifesto, Stuckists have adapted their thoughts if not their central principles.

My vision of an art gallery, d9 or The Arcade, or whatever it might be called, would include all of the above, anything creative in fact but I too would find it difficult to exhibit items that haven't been created my hand but rely on the audience realising its conceptual significance.

This, of course, brings me into direct conflict with the likes of Ai Weiwei. But does it? I understand his 'Sunflower Seeds.' it is very Yoko Ono in its concept, very poignant and political too. It is much like John and Yoko’s sending of acorns – a statement. Is it art? Yes, I think it is but not the sort the average person can hang on their wall and admire. It is not the sort of art you could exhibit down London’s infamous Brick Lane with its street art daubing the walls, its galleries sly-hidden down back alleys. That is an art of the people by the people and I much prefer it.

Even if I wanted to be rude to Ai Weiwei, and I don't,  he remains a man with good morals that match his desire for a better world. His art is very much of the East. An area where organised religion failed to travel but where such goodness and wisdom emanate. If only Monotheism had such an abundance of both.

In short, I value figurative art, would want to exhibit figurative art but refuse to be mealy-mouthed about others work that isn’t to my taste. Besides, what of the paintings and sculptures of Ai Weiwei? They would sit nicely in mine or anybody’s gallery for that matter. In some peculiarly Zen-like way, the art of Yoko Ono and of Ai Weiwei has the same Taoist pulse running through it. I understand it even if I don’t want to own it which of course brings up another conceptual debate all of its own; do you ever own any form of art or are you just a temporary custodian? 

Back to Charles Thompson. A man, if not of my own heart, then of the town I was born in; Romford, Essex. His art comes as flat as his own attitude. It is highly colourful, rich in fact yet outlined in black. It seems to me to be as much Pop Art as it is Comic Book Art. Mister Thompson would not agree. His view on his work and he should know best his influences,  are Japanese woodblock prints, Van Gogh (who isn't?) and German Expressionism. This is possibly his most famous work and equally possibly Stuckism's single masterpiece in striking a blow against Britart.

I also like these....

There are so many artists that belong to the Stuckist movement, too many in fact, for to be able to show them all here. All I can do is exhibit some of those I like whilst leaving the reader the option of checking out the rest.

Elsa Dax is a particular favourite. French by birth being born in 1972 (the year my wife and I first started hanging out together!) in Paris. She has quite a pedigree as she studied at the Sorbonne. Not that having done so makes her any better but the Sorbonne is generally recognised as being an establishment which has produced its fair share of accomplished artists. Elsa Dax is certainly one of those.

Much of her work draws inspiration from mythology. She paints Gods and Goddesses sipping the essence of their supposed immortality then transferring that energy into a realised spirituality. 

"My aim is to paint all the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. I've been working on this series for eight years; it will probably take me another eight years to complete. I try to penetrate with my imagination into the essence of the god or goddess. After painting them I feel as if I'm protected by these deities on a spiritual level. When I painted Venus I felt quite happy and relaxed; Mars made me feel like Churchill – the warrior, the struggle. Venus and Mars don't appear to be intimate, but there is a subtle sexual union. His penis is about to enter her vagina."

Her most notable work in 'Venus and Mars.' 

However, my personal favourite is 'Rhea and Chronos.'

Rachel Jordan was a Stuckist, is a Stuckist, but has the nerve and common sense to also work with Saatchi. OK, we all know Saatchi is a corporate entity apparently in favour of making lots of money rather than promoting art. If that accusation is true then it is a very sad day for creativity. That said, and as a member of the Working Class mine, and everyone of that class is proud of their independence, believe in the ethic of hard work yet maintain our dignity by selling our work and not ourselves. Rachel has exhibited at the Saatchi. Good for her.

A lot of her work concerns itself with cellular life. Much in the same way as does American artists Elena Horowitz-Brookes. I find this looking beyond what we can see and measure with our own limited visual acuity, seeking to visualise what our fellow animals might see, fascinating.

"I think I still have a lot of expression coming through because I use water colours, and that can be very variable in how strong or weak the colour is on the paper. I don’t try to keep the colour that consistent when I apply it. Also, I don’t use a ruler. So, if I’m doing a hexagon I don’t try to make it a totally perfect mathematical hexagon. I’m just drawing by hand, so I still regard my paintings as full and free expression. What is also unlimited is the amount and combination of colours and forms that you can have"

Peter MvArdle. Born in Tynemouth 1965.

"It’s probably a lot to do with being brought up as a Roman Catholic, and a transitional moment in my life. Every Saturday night I went to confession. One day my father asked the priest to tell him his own sins. The priest clammed up and my father walked out of confession. After that, we left the church. Years later I went to Venice for a few weeks and I was confronted by all this religious imagery which brought back all the guilt. I was inspired by a Titian painting with a sexual element and also wanted to paint a contemporary annunciation. These things fused. It gets a bit more complex after that. The gun is symbolic of penetration yet also of protection. I expect the viewer to work hard. You need a certain understanding of history."

Yes, I favour Stuckism.


Possibly because I am of an old school that likes art adorning my walls.

Remember, though, this does not mean I discount Animism, Sculpture or Kinetic art. I unequivocally don't. I am categorically in favour of all forms of creativity but my preference is for that which my poor brain, equalled by that of a lisping goldfish, doesn't have to struggle with.

1 comment:

LeeKwo said...

Great information Russell/I had heard of the Stuckists but have never come across their manifesto/Very interesting/

Follow by Email



A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog