About Me and Stuckism

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I have been painting and writing for twenty-five years, and have shown extensively throughout New York State, mainly over the past nine years. I have self-published several books. Occasionally I get my work to show in other states or overseas. Internetedly, I am known worldwide by exactly 52 people.

I paint nearly every day, and hold no other paid employment.

I believe that American artists need to learn the thrill of painting, especially as it pertains to enthusiasm and camaraderie. Avarice and atomization have been creeping in over the past two generations. There is just too much aloneness in the arts.

Communion has been one of my artistic goals for as long as I can remember. Expressive painting is a very powerful connector to people. We are an image and story-loving species. To give an example of how disassociated the arts have become to the general public (and even other artists!), for the past several years, I have opened up my house to exhibit my paintings. I invite friends, relatives, college professors, art teachers, even my periodontist—I see many of the same faces year after year, and am thankful, yet I am always surprised how few “artists” attend. What truly irks me is the non-attendance of those who teach the arts professionally. As if they tacitly agree that art only happens in big cities like New York, London, Paris, or Moscow. Of course, this is not true!

Stuckism, via the the great and glorious Internet, is poised to connect millions back to art. Both on a local and worldwide levels. I believe students especially can be charmed with the idea that they too can plug into social media, display recent work, enjoy critique, and provide solo exhibitions on their own, in person (a Stuckist prerequisite). If almost rural Ron Throop from Oswego County, New York, can inspire a group of talented painters in the cafes of Anywhere, Earth, then others can too. They will appreciate the many avenues open to artists through Stuckist philosophy. My work will speak for itself. So too does the work of these painters poised to exhibit at Quintus.

And what about them? Well, at the start-up of this blog, 32 artists from eight countries have agreed to show their work. Several represent the original Stuckists from London, as well as Charles Thomson, its founder and steadfast promoter. A few great ones from Russia I have previously worked with, also a painter from Spain, Iran, and two from Arizona. Examples of their work hang in my blue room which presently holds my burgeoning collection of International Stuckism.

The intention of this exhibition is clear. To spread interest in the only art movement worth considering at this moment in time. All of us are still alive.

The following manifesto was written by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish back in 1999. Several of the precepts are debatable—others strike at the core of what I believe painting must accomplish. In my opinion, art must always express a man or woman artist. It is never a finished piece, but a lifetime of movement. If I ever painted for others, then I know it was a complete failure. Stuckism is a ride I have been on all my life, and yet just didn’t know it until I could name it.

It has been named.

THE STUCKISTS
(est. 1999)

“Your paintings are stuck,
you are stuck!
Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!”
Tracey Emin

Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego–artist.

1. Stuckism is the quest for authenticity.  By removing the mask of cleverness and admitting where we are, the Stuckist allows him/herself uncensored expression.

2. Painting is the medium of self–discovery.  It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.

3. Stuckism proposes a model of art which is holistic.  It is a meeting of the conscious and unconscious, thought and emotion, spiritual and material, private and public.  Modernism is a school of fragmentation — one aspect of art is isolated and exaggerated to detriment of the whole.  This is a fundamental distortion of the human experience and perpetrates an egocentric lie.

4. Artists who don’t paint aren’t artists.

5. Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art.

6. The Stuckist paints pictures because painting pictures is what matters.

7. The Stuckist is not mesmerised by the glittering prizes, but is wholeheartedly engaged in the process of painting. Success to the Stuckist is to get out of bed in the morning and paint.

8. It is the Stuckist’s duty to explore his/her neurosis and innocence through the making of paintings and displaying them in public, thereby enriching society by giving shared form to individual experience and an individual form to shared experience.

9. The Stuckist is not a career artist but rather an amateur (amare, Latin, to love) who takes risks on the canvas rather than hiding behind ready–made objects (e.g. a dead sheep).  The amateur, far from being second to the professional, is at the forefront of experimentation, unencumbered by the need to be seen as infallible.  Leaps of human endeavour are made by the intrepid individual, because he/she does not have to protect their status.  Unlike the professional, the Stuckist is not afraid to fail.

10. Painting is mysterious.  It creates worlds within worlds, giving access to the unseen psychological realities that we inhabit.  The results are radically different from the materials employed.  An existing object (e.g. a dead sheep) blocks access to the inner world and can only remain part of the physical world it inhabits, be it moorland or gallery.  Ready–made art is a polemic of materialism.

11. Post Modernism, in its adolescent attempt to ape the clever and witty in modern art, has shown itself to be lost in a cul–de–sac of idiocy.  What was once a searching and provocative process (as Dadaism) has given way to trite cleverness for commercial exploitation.  The Stuckist calls for an art that is alive with all aspects of human experience; dares to communicate its ideas in primeval pigment; and possibly experiences itself as not at all clever!

12. Against the jingoism of Brit Art and the ego–artist.  Stuckism is an international non–movement.

13. Stuckism is anti ‘ism’.  Stuckism doesn’t become an ‘ism’ because Stuckism is not Stuckism, it is stuck!

14. Brit Art, in being sponsored by Saachis, main stream conservatism and the Labour government, makes a mockery of its claim to be subversive or avant–garde.

15. The ego–artist’s constant striving for public recognition results in a constant fear of failure.  The Stuckist risks failure wilfully and mindfully by daring to transmute his/her ideas through the realms of painting.  Whereas the ego–artist’s fear of failure inevitably brings about an underlying self–loathing, the failures that the Stuckist encounters engage him/her in a deepening process which leads to the understanding of the futility of all striving.  The Stuckist doesn’t strive — which is to avoid who and where you are — the Stuckist engages with the moment.

16. The Stuckist gives up the laborious task of playing games of novelty, shock and gimmick.  The Stuckist neither looks backwards nor forwards but is engaged with the study of the human condition.  The Stuckists champion process over cleverness, realism over abstraction, content over void, humour over wittiness and painting over smugness.

17. If it is the conceptualist’s wish to always be clever, then it is the Stuckist’s duty to always be wrong.

18. The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea.  The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.

19. Crimes of education: instead of promoting the advancement of personal expression through appropriate art processes and thereby enriching society, the art school system has become a slick bureaucracy, whose primary motivation is financial.  The Stuckists call for an open policy of admission to all art schools based on the individual’s work regardless of his/her academic record, or so–called lack of it.

We further call for the policy of entrapping rich and untalented students from at home and abroad to be halted forthwith.

We also demand that all college buildings be available for adult education and recreational use of the indigenous population of the respective catchment area.  If a school or college is unable to offer benefits to the community it is guesting in, then it has no right to be tolerated.

20. Stuckism embraces all that it denounces.  We only denounce that which stops at the starting point — Stuckism starts at the stopping point!

Billy Childish
Charles Thomson
4.8.99

The following have been proposed to the Bureau of Inquiry for possible inclusion as Honorary Stuckists:

Katsushika Hokusai
Utagawa Hiroshige
Vincent van Gogh
Edvard Munch
Karl Schmidt–Rotluff
Max Beckman
Kurt Schwitters

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