Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth. ~Pablo Picasso
In a time when conformity means survival, when the political climate is such that even in a “free” country such as the United States, most people are afraid to speak up in public; in a time when art in general has turned a corner and appears to be heading down a deep dark, plagiaristic alley and in absolute danger of losing its’ facility to convey freshness, illumination, authenticity and contemporary expressiveness, along comes someone whose artwork does all that and more. Someone whose work is uniquely of himself, who presents genuineness in a time when it seems extremely dangerous and courageous to do so publicly.
When I saw his work as an installation at the Guggenheim in New York City in 2003, I was astonished and amazed at the content, the massive execution in all of its’ the complexities, the beauty, the horror, the drama, the skill and the completeness of its’ whole. I spent five hours with the work and felt as though I had only been summarily teased into wanting more. Since I happened upon the work on my last day in NYC, I stayed until the museum doors closed that day and came away with the awe inspired admiration of a first year art student; I was thoroughly star struck, spellbound and as much as I truly hate using the word, I felt that what I had experienced that day in the Guggenheim installation was indeed particularly awesome.
Now, much to my pleasure, Matthew Barney’s work Drawing Restraint, is here on the coast where I live in San Francisco, at the Museum of Modern Art. In place until September 17, 2006, this show should not be missed. The work, in all of its’ composite segments is an extension of all of Barney’s other pieces. This time the setting is a whaling town in Japan and the content is as equally surreal, beautiful, horrific and remarkable as anything else he has done in the Cremaster Cycle.
If I may be allowed to be so pedantic, I am compelled to give it the requisite “two thumbs up” and to tell you that the experience is well worth the $12.50 for admission. Art is only going to continue to function as a viable societal resource if more of us in the artistic community at large develop artwork in the spirit of this manner of thinking and implementation.
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