Oct 2021

Today I read about Thomas Nozkowski, a review written by John Yau, a critic I admire.

I read that for decades Nozkowski used prepared canvas from art supply stores, defying the idea of stretching your own and being the art hero.

I read that his works are literal, where shapes are shapes, lines lines, and colors colors — no symbolism.

I googled his name and read how he used drawing to “cool down” after he made paintings, instead of seeing drawings as pre-painting sketches. I scrolled through the images in the article, enlarged them, panned them around and felt, emitting from them, something honest and pleasant.

“Pleasant” is not a word I thought I would use to describe art.

I have been defaulting to extracting meanings beyond aesthetics. In the process of tirelessly reading things and reading into them, I discovered that I have become picky. For example:

I am not a big fan of any art that lectures me about how the world works or should work.

I am not interested in any art that quotes theory heavily or touts “research” as the mainstay of its creation.

I am weary of reading politically correct statements (okay, this one applies to art and beyond).

I become easily overwhelmed by loud sounds, flashes, fast-cutting moving images, total darkness, conceptual play (whatever that means), embodied gestures (whatever that means), speculative performances (whatever that means), positionality (whatever that means)…

I have started to think that, perhaps, I don’t really like art.

I say that as someone who writes about art, calls herself an artist and have many artist friends.

Reading about Thomas Nozkowski and looking at his images, I realize the problem is not that I don’t like art, but rather that I have somehow acquired a sadistic lens when it comes to seeing art.

I thought I should look at smart art, important art, complicated art — which are usually mediated, if not bloated, through educational, cultural and financial institutions. In reality, I am probably better off looking at, listening to, reading about, experiencing and interacting with art that doesn’t strain my brain.

This includes: art that makes me smile, art that connects me to poetry, art that collapses and does not care to hold onto its carcasses. This does not include: art that uses didactic contextualization to cover up its messiness, art that tries to illustrate its (or its maker’s) wokeness and art that cuts itself around the mold of curatorial trend. Art that coerces beliefs is not only boring, but also harmful for the development of other art.

I read that Thomas Nozkowski is no longer alive and that I can buy his work for $10,000.

The question of whether I would buy it comes across my mind. If I had $10,000 worth of disposable income?

For now, I thank it for helping me put words to what I care about.