Once Again New

It’s been pointed out, most cogently by Nietzsche, that what stirs us most in what we read is what we already know. He means philosophy or any kind of wisdom writing, not political screeds on the internet. But we still have to confront the problem that is blocking contemporary political discourse, namely that if you only find what you want to find in what you read then perhaps you don’t really read. The same would go for art. It’s a disease of painters—to be stuck, stuck, stuck, as Tracey Emin put it—but not only painters. Pleasure has to involve some repetition, that’s the link between art and sex after all, but repetition is contrary to the spirit of modern art. Or at least some of it. I guess some accommodation has to be made; better to be realistic than idealistic. But as it happens, the worst idealists are those who believe in the eternal value of art. Repetition should be the point of departure, not the goal. Then art enters the flow of time.

Robert Linsley, Collage #9 2016 (enamel, watercolour, watercolour pencil, acrylic, spray paint, collage on wood)

I’ve torn this collage down and rebuilt it more than once but now it’s done. In many ways it repeats the previous big one. Was thinking of throwing it out, but it’s easy to forget how painful, even agonizing it was to make some of the earlier ones in the series. Whoever promised it would be easy? It’s not a technical difficulty, it’s the need to dig deep, not to work on autopilot. To make it real. I don’t really know what to say, it’s all a matter of feeling, and you know you’re on the right path when it feels hopeless. And looking back over the series they are getting better. Lest anyone think I’m making too much fuss about nothing, I’ll just say that everything that gets done to the picture is objective; it’s not “self-expression.” As I said before, the problem is how large shapes relate to small details. Since this is the biggest collage so far, 60×48″, that problem takes on a different character. At the beginning I thought the large black shape had something to do with the Trump election—took a while to make it more than that, which meant giving it a stronger identity as a shape. Actually more than one shape. The other task was to make some straight lines dance among the curves.

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