ULCERS OF UKRAINIAN ART PROCESS
1. An art criticism. War and Peace.
There is an opinion that professional art critic is an easy-tempered contemplator, a sober analyst, who dreams about being objective. His main task is to analyze an artwork and identify its place and role on the art map and inside the historical epoch. A professional critic answers the questions: What kind of an artwork is it? What did artist mean? Does the artwork correspond to context (to both local and global)? Is it an event? Is artistic expression is clear enough?
All said above about the "professional art critic" has a little relation towards the truth. However, it is more appropriate in satisfied bourgeois societies, where the art process is an "everyday routine", and formed and socialized sphere. A life of artistic communities in certain country could be divided according to Tolstoy- as War and Peace. When the art infrastructure is formed, when there is an art market, when there are dialogues with public, when the art is legal, when there is no bad associations with phrase "contemporary art" and "if it is not Rembrandt, so it "lowbrow" - it means that it is Peace. For the times of Peace, there is a peaceful art criticism. It has its own methods, language, character, and tasks.
However, if it is an art crisis or a formation of the art environment, where it searches for the meaning and unique character, it would be War. War has own art critic method. So, who is an art critic of the War times? What kind of historical mission he has? I am sure, that he has nothing in common with quiet contemplate or clear analyst. He would rather be a meticulous doctor. His main task is to examine the state of health of the art body. Thus, a dominant irritant for the art critic of War are ulcers, rough edges, pimples, and illnesses of the art environment. He should notice them foremost. He is a woodpecker, who can treat forest by beating trees with his sharp nose (by beating artists, artworks or phenomenon).
So, what is adequate treatment is? Or even much more exact question: Who is the best doctor? You can always ask a doctor for pills. However, if you learn more about medicine, you will find out that the best prescriptions gives a pathologist. He is the only one who sees the picture of metabolic processes in general. While digging in flash, he does not simply discover the life history, but, in fact, gets an opportunity to find out what influences the body.
Up to this, I can see the professional art critic of War times as the pathologist, but not as a good-natured old physician. His task is to make a postmortem examination of world beyond the bleeding gates of skin. The difference is that pathologist analyzes dead, but an art critic- pathologist dissects living things. It is important to understand that he deals with ill but still living subjects. That is why everything he operates will feel pain. An anesthesia is helpless here. A fact needs to be accepted. You heal somebody by doing pain. The artist should realize that critic might hurt. Moreover, it is very good, if there is someone who can hurt, because the medicine is a good find of humanity.
2. Art situation in Ukraine.
The mood degree of Ukrainian art-sphere had changed to positive from 2007 to 2008. Contemporary art got prestige and fashionable status thanks to Pinchuk Art Centre. There are lines for exhibitions have showed up, the art has gathered VIP-personas around, and everybody from nouveau riche to deputy have realized that by means of contemporary art it is possible to capitalize the reputation. The smell of cash has appeared, a gallery life has cheered up.
However, if we take a closer look on the art situation of the spring 2008, we will see crisis symptoms, which can lead to degeneration.
Today, at the Wartime, the main aim for Ukrainian art-critics is not a happy applauding to successes, but a roar to ulcers. A diagnosis must be set, all the diseases should be determined.
So, what are the main ulcers of Ukrainian art environment? What should be excised?
" A black art market. Ukrainian art market exists only in nonpublic status. While buying a picture in the black market, a customer gets a documentarily unconfirmed virtual value.
All deals take place "under the table". There is no sales history. The black market does not let the artist to "be estimated" and to "have certain cost" and, accordingly, he cannot play inside the international art market. Actually, Ukrainian artist officially costs nothing. His price is the numbers taken from nowhere, which buyer had paid once to a gallery owner. However, the price, which once upon a time oligarch B. had paid for an artist C., is not real. A real price means a middle number from all official sales of an artist C. There is a conclusion: the art market must be legalized. If there is an official art market, the artist will have its price. For now, all this seems as a children's play in art business.
"Oil on canvas" Kingdom. Despite the total Techno time, Ukraine is still a barbarian towards variety of visual art practices. Ukrainian artists do painting. It is easy understood, because only painting could be sold at present time in Ukraine. However, it is hard to eat everyday in a restaurant, which serves spaghetti for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The situation for "doing painting" can last for a long time, but it does not mean, "Its ok". It limits the artists' imagination. By getting used to a painting technique, the artist loses ability to experiment with subject and appearance. By domination of painting ("painting-cratia" - auth.) an artist begin being noncompetitive. Actually, he is much the same now - a provincial art citizen, who has nothing to offer as a "Ukrainian word" inside the manifold of world artistic practices. A strategy for the new generation should be an orientation on the media outside the painting.
" Curators: an Ice Age. There is no need to poeticize an artist. An average artist is a tongue-tied social parasite and a lazy man. He is able to create an artwork, but extremely rare is capable for a valuable and clear artistic expression, which would cause a social and media resonance. Actually, there is nothing bad here. To make public speeches, to build up an artistic project and exposition as integral and completed reality - are the curators' tasks. However, there are almost no institutions for curators, no curator communities, and no curators as graduated professionals. The problems, which arise out:
1) A social isolation of Ukrainian Contemporary Art; 2) The term "thought-out exposition" is absent in its main meaning while exhibiting an art project; 3) The art process in Ukraine is held in hands of kamikaze-gallery owners and silent artists, which leads to perversity; 4) There is no variety of artistic genres and expressive techniques; " The absence of emotions inside the contemporary art. Its components and consequences: 1) the lack of emotionality as the key art value; 2) plenty of artworks are left without social and media resonance (because works are tongue-tied or artistically silent); 3) The absence of high-critical, rebellion and radical artistic practices (historically proved foundation for the art development);
" In search for the new names. In fact, "ZEH"- is the only one gallery, which searches for the new names. However, it is impossible to talk about new artistic generation, whose practices would differ from the practices of 90's artists. It makes sense to discover the methods and approaches of "ZEH" and to develop an underground gallery model, which should be used everywhere in Ukraine as a special way of search for the new names.
" Ideological and aesthetical unidirectionality of art communities and artists. Artists and art communities define themselves inside the old-fashioned paradigm: "We are either mass or elitist artists".
" An art environment without alternative. Actually, nowadays art situation in Ukraine lives on ideological energies set by Pinchuk. Thus, there is no understanding of young Ukrainian artist outside that restrained, clean and elite-oriented debate. Better to say, that average Ukrainian artist wants sushi, coke and deputies on open night party, and absolutely forgets that art can exist not only in museums and galleries, but on the streets or as underground.
" Females and art criticism (art-critics without testicles). There are two groups of nowadays art-critics - Pussies and Grandmas. Pussies are girls. They work for consumer press and write about either whom they sleep with or who pays. Grandmas - are aged drinking males. They are beggars, who follow special principles while generating the review: 1) I write about those, who gave money for liqueur; 2) I write about those, with whom I used to drink, whom I know and love. Both categories do not criticize, and it is not normal that in Wartimes we have Peace type of critics. Notably, there is no (!) art critic in Ukraine nowadays, whose word would mean something. There are reasons: 1) the majority of art-critics do not work for well-known editions; 2) the majority of art-critics are stuttering ignoramuses, who supposes for review an annotation in a magazine in the section "Where to go on Sunday night if you are tired of clubs"
All above described is just little, from the crisis symptoms of the art process in Ukraine. It is strategically important to note them for future treatment and to call for initiation (of the treatment). By saying, "If there are no curators, it is bad", we automatically hint at another judgment "If there are curators, it is good".
Thus, the professional art critic is that mysterious father from the nursery rhyme, who answers the question: "What is good and what is bad?" Therefore, I do not believe that art critic should be objective, because being that, it has no side to choose. Indeed, if there is no understanding of good and evil, of a double-natured reality, the human practice (and the art is not an exception) only mutters and gabblers, hardly producing decisions, and hardly developing.
However, there is a light at the end of tunnel. Any crisis leads to tension, and the critical mass is gathering, and then explosion. The symptoms of therapeutic butchery are seen already in Ukrainian art environment. A protest community easily arises in situation of bourgeois serenity, emotional calmness, inadequacy of mind and actions, when the average painter sees himself an artist and wants to eat sushi, when new young art has forgotten about its historical mission of sanitary torment the society. I am sure, that in next couple of years we will see rising of ideologically and emotionally different critics, artists, curators, and gallery owners. They will take advantage of sleeping Ukrainian art environment, which only dreams about what to wear on the next gallery show. A natural cultural tribunal against robotic and slippery Ukrainian art environment is just a question of time.