Sunday, November 8, 2009

Please Help Me Understand the Surrealism Around Me

I stopped by Don't Be Scared....Be Prepared for my first visit to Matt Matt Morris' u.turn art space in Cincinnati and it is a great space. I think I like this space better than it's neighbor Semantics.

Though I guess I failed to heed the advice of the exhibition title.

I've never been the biggest fan of Surrealism. I've often thought its nightmarish imagery was simply too frightening and sometimes disturbing for me to want to engage and admit this may still be a large part of my ignorance. Teaching about Dali and Miro to students affords me the opportunity to appreciate the goals of the Surrealist movement towards a social revolution and a freedom to explore the realities of personal experiences. And I do sincerely appreciate this goal and in fact require that all artists adopt it no matter the style in which they work.

As witnessed while teaching art history, Surrealism has had a renewed popularity in the past 10 years or so. But it has been in the last year when I've seen it in the local galleries. Yet I'm not sure what its role is today. I'm not sure why I struggle with, but I find Minimalism more engaging. For example in "Don't Be Scared," I love the "Purple Rain" drops on the wall better than the drawing it surrounds.

I realize perhaps I'm not even giving this new surrealism a chance. Too often I simply walk away from the nightmare (interpret this as you wish).

Help me to understand what reality is being uncovered. Is it the tidal wave of images and information thrusts upon us through various media outlets that make this neo-Surrealism seem less accessible to me? What is really at stake here? Do artists feel a lack of freedom being imposed upon them by the media messiness? What is the claim contemporary artists are making about their worlds? I'm ready to accept the possibility that I am simply too old to understand some of the references, but there should be an underlying message that does not escape me.