Monday, May 23, 2011

The Arrival of ART Spring: Pope John Paul II statue by Oliviero Rainaldi debacle and public revolt against “Official Modernism”




The lame excuse of work being “modern” does not justify “ugly” any more as public outcry over newly erected with all “official art” approvals John Paul II statue by Oliviero Rainaldi in Rome clearly shows. Times DO change!!!!!!!!

Lets be absolutely clear it is “ugly” not because it attempted to be modern, it is ugly because it is soooooooo utterly bad.

The abstract shape of the cloak simply does not work. From a purely abstract point of view there is not a hint of spatial or compositional dynamics or tension in it. There are neither lines of tension nor volume of austere stillness. There are neither unity, nor motion. It is neither severe, nor it is whimsical. It is simply dull and yawningly boring visually, while being intolerably bulky. That is what makes it seem ridiculously out of place and monstrously oppressive. That is what makes it truly “ugly.”


The stated attempt of a heavily stylized open robe to convey “embrace” is just as “original” in its idea as it is “compelling” in its execution.  It actually resembles more a 125mm shell distorted by misfire. 


Then there is an issue of a conspicuous head rendition of much admired world wide JPII. The nakedly obvious to any Italian or anyone even slightly versed in the painful history of 20th century visual reference to Benito Mussolini while might’ve tickled someone’s fancy and get some giggles out of “enlightened elite” does not stand any intellectual scrutiny what so ever and shall be considered plain stupid! Claiming “ignorance” wouldn’t cut it.













So much for “tong-in-cheek” requirement for any “officially approved” by cultural politburo art. There are clear limitations to the extent and effectiveness of dumb-down mockery. 

If this guy has some beef with Roman Catholic Church/despite making his living of it for 30 years it is/ – he has every right to express it, but than he should’ve declined the commission and do a memorial for victims of clergy abuse instead. The current opus is too hideous and incoherent for that either. So not only the reference to Mussolini is stupid, it is a dishonest one too.

The only defense by the sculptor is that “he wanted to create something contemporary rather than realistic rendition in the style of the 19th century” is just as lame of an excuse as it betrays the totally conformist and disingenuous mindset. Simply decrying 19th century art while producing something hideous does not qualify for "modern work" it only brings to light the overriding desire to fit “lucrative stylistic criteria” which is a definition of commercialism.

Any attempt to pull an old dusty “genius, un-understood by vulgar public” line of defense is just as laughable in this case as it is deeply pathetic.

Yet, the main issue here is the aspect of “official approvals” as the work went through all “appropriate channels”. We witness the inevitable bankruptcy of the very concept of the “official art form” – the only one sanctioned, demanded and enforced by authority, which modernism had sadly become at the end of last century. The most fascinating part of the report in L’Osservatorre Romano is that it acknowledged the sculpture being a “modern work” and therefore felt obliged to call the city’s initiative “praiseworthy” - oh, but of course, in order to be “officially” progressive, one has to proclaim allegiance to “modern” /much like there had to be ritualistic references to "genius of Lenin and leading role of the communist party" in the old Soviet Union/ and in order for anything to be “modern” it just has to be “ugly”…well these guys are desperately stuck waaaaaay in the last century.

No, it does not have to be “ugly” to be “modern”, the prime of this notion has gone alone with virginity of summer of love bra burners.

Yes, there is a need for a coherent unity of Content Clarity and Formal Integrity in any style to be “modern.” That Formal Integrity shall come directly as a genuine desire to deliver that Clarity of Content regardless of any expected judgment of high priests of an outlived its usefulness establishment cult.


A really instructive lesson of this debacle is yes, one can bull shit his or her way out of a failed “conceptual” work and no, same is impossible with the figurative work.

It is so sad, yet poignant that it had to be a venerable legacy of a beloved John Paul II desecrated by the much removed from current cultural reality art apparatchiks in the midst of infinitely inspiring Eternal City to spark the outrage and the revolt of the public sick of being treated as “vulgar mob.” The public had head it with permanent visual water boarding of ugliness on our streets under the banner of fraudulent “modernity”. It is the season of not just Middle East Spring – it is a season of ART Spring as well!!!


AWAY with the “official art” of a required “ugliness”!!!!!!!!!!!
VIVA NOVO!