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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Huxley's Stuckist Island

Aldous Huxley is a writer well known for his insights into the human condition. First published in 1932, his cautionary novel, Brave New World, warned of a futuristic society that seems much like the one we now find ourselves wrapped up in. In Island, his 1962 tale of a flourishing Pacific island utopia, Huxley wrote a scene where one character offers the following criticism of another’s paintings - a critique that could have been written by a modern day Stuckist:

"The worst feature of your nonrepresentational art is its systematic two-dimensionality, its refusal to take account of the universal experience of distance. As a colored object, a piece of abstract expressionism can be very handsome. It can also serve as a kind of glorified Rorschach inkblot. Everybody can find in it a symbolic expression of his own fears, lusts, hatreds, and daydreams. But can one ever find in it those more than human ( or should one say those other than all too human) facts that one discovers in oneself when the mind is confronted by the outer distances of nature, or by the simultaneously inner and outer distances of a painted landscape like this one we’re looking at? All I know is that in your abstractions I don’t find the realities that reveal themselves here, and I doubt if anyone else can. Which is why this fashionable abstract nonobjective expressionism of yours is so fundamentally irreligious - and also, I may add, why even the best of it is so profoundly boring, so bottomlessly trivial."