What I Thought Of Looking At Today: Tomma Abts

More from Paper Monument, the print version #1, an interesting critique of Tomma Abts’ Turner Prize-winning exhibition in 2006 by editor Dushko Petrovich:

Understatement is of course a wonderful tactic, provided that you first have something to state. Without content, the muted tends toward the silent. If, on the other hand, a painting’s content is the process of painting, then the general feeling drifts toward something worse–a kind of false modesty. It is hard to fault such carefully made, quiet–you could even say flawless–objects, but there is something about their very correctness, about their self-imposed limits, and the absence–or eradication–of risk, that makes their introversion hard to admire.
These paintings have been praised both for looking like early modernist paintings and for not looking like early modernist paintings. I think the trouble stems from the desire to make paintings with no referent. As the vocabulary for this kind of endeavor is inevitably limited (the surface of the painting can’t refer to the surfaces in the world, the color can’t resemble the color in the world, the shapes can’t, et cetera,) a lot of the attempts are going to look like variations: both repeating and not repeating the previous patterns. This brings us back to the screen savers. The lesson seems to be that if you attempt to make a painting with absolutely no referent, this painting will look (a) like previous paintings with no referent and (b) like recently outmoded developments in technology.
But just because it’s impossible doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

The Painting of Triumph [papermonument.com]