Create With Passion

Do you share your passions with others? Do you share the things, ideas, creations, people, artists, which rouse and arouse you, get your emotional juices flowing, with others or do you keep them to yourself?

Do you share some and not others?

What makes one source of passion shareable and the other one something to keep secret?

“I have a strong desire to communicate what I feel about the world. That’s exciting to me.”

– Dan Gilroy

I watched a brilliant film last night on Netflix – Velvet Buzzsaw (2019).

The subject of the film is one which comes with a trigger warning for me. Anything about the Art World, particularly if it’s about the Art Business, tends to inspire rage, fury, passion to flow through my veins and may lead to rants.

The Art World is one big malignant overt and covert narcissist to me.

However Velvet Buzzsaw didn’t trigger me. Why? Because the writer/director, Dan Gilroy, sees that world in what appears to me to be the same way that I do, and he took beautiful creative revenge on it.

He slaughtered the arty farty narcissists with such finesse that if I was the sort of person who watched films more than once, I’d watch it over and over again, like a song which has captured my heart of darkness.

I grew up in the art world, surrounded by artists and other people connected to artists and the art business, and eventually went to work in the art business.

When I left the art business… I never wanted to look at another painting, print, sculpture, etc, ever again. I wanted to forget about art completely, pretend it didn’t exist.

If I met someone who said – “I’m an artist” – just the very sound of the word ‘artist’ made me feel simultaneously suicidal and homicidal.

I was always anxious in social situations which may have new people in them just in case anyone took enough of a passing interest in me to ask me a question about my family of origin, my work experience, my background.

I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to stir up the memory, emotion, feeling, thought, senses.

I came up with different methods of killing off any conversation which required personal information. I wanted to be bland and blank like a canvas which has yet to be slashed by paint.

Sometimes I’d imagine that I was a spy or someone in a witness protection program who needed to keep a low profile, and use that as the inspiration for my dead end answers – no, I did not actually tell people that I was a spy or in Witsec. I’m crazy but not that crazy… although, perhaps I should have said something like that, it would have be an excellent distracting deflection.

When I did have to reveal my previous life, it took me a long time to figure out how to control the involuntary muscle spasms, facial contortions, and oral ejaculations which went with saying – My father was a professional artist or I worked in the art business.

The Art World doesn’t trigger violent passion within me as much as it used to, partly thanks to blogging about the experiences which caused so much pent up Sturm und Drang.

“When I’m writing, I’m trying to access my subconscious and turn off my conscious brain. I use my conscious for research, but when I’m actually writing, I’m trying to get into a place where I’m tapping into the deeper, darker elements of what’s going on.”

– Dan Gilroy

I’m still not at that point where I’m totally calm and cool about it, but I’m almost there.

I put Velvet Buzzsaw on without hesitation, even though I knew it might make me have a fit inside and froth at the mouth, and without knowing it would be as majestically satisfying as it was.

I didn’t look it up online before watching… I’m glad I didn’t as the reviews would have put me off. The couple of reviews I saw afterwards made me chuckle darkly because they reminded me of the pretentious bullshit spewing out of the mouth and fingers of the lead character, Morf Vandewalt, who was an art critic. UGH! ART CRITICS!!! He was such a spot on character… OMG I LOVE DAN GILROY!!!

Sorry for the sudden shouting. But passion will out and out itself that way.

This morning on the (once bastion of level-headed information and now just another sensationalist tabloid) BBC News website, I saw a clickbait headline asking – Jeff Koons sells, but is his art good? – on closer inspection the article is a review by some art editor critic type for a show of Jeff Koons’ work at the Ashmolean Museum.

“Media is extraordinarily important and is an extraordinarily powerful tool. There’s a reason that the first things that a rebellion or revolt will take is the media. The story you transmit is the story that becomes a given, or the narrative of a country and people.”

– Dan Gilroy

I can’t be bothered to read the fnah fnah blah blah in that article… I just don’t think it matters if Jeff Koons’ art is considered good or not. It’s art – it’s whatever you make of it and it makes of you.

All I ever remember about Jeff Koons is that he was once married to La Cicciolina – she’s an icon in Italy.

And that his career took off at around the same time that my father’s career stalled, then tanked – for the same reason. The Art Business became the investment playground of Wall Street.

People like the character of Gordon Gekko in the film – Wall Street, became the arbiters of which artist succeeded and which artist was relegated to oblivion. What I remember the most about that film were the scenes with the character who was the artist – she didn’t need to be a talented artist, all she needed was a backer like Gekko.

Corporate raiders raided the world of art, and changed it to suit them, their ambitions, their vision for and version of reality.

A sociopath is not just someone who doesn’t care about human emotion. They’re someone who understands people to the point that they can manipulate them to an extraordinary degree.

– Dan Gilroy

Once people like Saatchi decided to use art for making loads of money – everything changed. Decomposing dead sharks in glass tanks became the thing to invest in. Is that good art – does it matter? I wonder what Damien Hirst thinks of it – he always has this look on his face as though he’s slightly shell-shocked and can’t believe he got away with it.

Just before I left the art business, investment in art had become a prime way for certain types of mega rich people to launder their money.

Two things I can cross off my bucket list – met a Yakuza dude and a Russian Mafia dude in charge of ‘art acquisition and investment’ plus security entourage.

Velvet Buzzsaw didn’t really dip more than a toe-tip into the collector side of the art business. It left it more as a subtle background to the goings on of the art critics and art dealers. In some ways the viewer of the film… is the art collector.

It’s a truly fantastic piece of art using the medium of film.

It’s a thriller/horror so don’t watch it if you don’t like those genres – there is much creative spilling of passionate blood…

… and it was intensely satisfying!

5 comments

  1. A good friend of mine was an artist (she’s gone now) who was exhibited in some “very important places.” She was the most laidback and happy artist I ever knew (although to be fair I haven’t known many). She just liked to paint. Landscapes. That was it for her. I love her paintings and own a couple. They’re restful and lovely and just her. Other artists I knew were angsty, depressed, sad … A lot of their stuff came asilly, to me anyway. I suspected a lot of it was an act, but I was never sure.

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      • There are happy artists, more so these days. I think that the internet has made a big difference to the art business, particularly for artists. It’s helped them to avoid getting sucked into the arty farty vanity vortex which makes them hate their own art. They can market their own work online, connect with their collectors and appreciators, control their reputation, name, quality of their work, do things their way to make a living doing what they’re passionate about doing.

        My partner is good mates with a brilliant artist. He does all his own printing, marketing, and business – mainly via the internet. He runs his own website and social media. He’s very successful. He loves what he does and is a very cheerful chap.

        There are of course still tortured artists, angry artists, etc, but some are happy being that way, it’s where they get their passion to create their art.

        It’s hard to tell sometimes what is what and who is who, but that’s the art of being human ๐Ÿ˜€

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  2. I was planning on watching tonight, dying ๐Ÿ˜‰ to see it actually๐Ÿ˜†…i always seen the art world as this glamorous outlet only certain people deemed worthy could get in. From what I saw in movies, it can be isolating. Look at Basquiat, he wouldn’t have been looked at twice if he was a regular dude, but once they seen his art, he was a hot commodity. So was he the applauded artist or was he himself the art?

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    • Enjoy watching it ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s very good! It focuses on the business side of the art world, with small glimpses at the impact of the art business on artists.

      What you asked about Basquiat – was he himself the art – is a wonderful question. It can be very hard to tell sometimes whether it’s the art or the artist who is being sold and promoted as art. Andy Warhol capitalised on that. He was a savvy businessman.

      There’s a great film about the artist’s side of the art world, it’s a biopic – Final Portrait (2017) – it’s not glamorous. The art world is more of a human cesspit designed to appear glamorous.

      Liked by 1 person

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