Ella Guru: The Empress Oil on canvas, 12 x 16″
[Before I forget, please dial (315)527-4263, read post, and then press send to inquire of a Guru]
Ella Guru is one of four founding members of an art movement exhibiting work at Quintus.
Ella is a painter with a strong following. I see from social media that she is many more things too. This is as it should be because it is what is real. I don’t know how well she sells on “the market”, if she tries to sell at all, like business people do. I am certain that if she had a capable and sober publicist, she would be one of the most famous living painters in the U.K., living atop the highest habitable hill with many butlers and maids to exchange their time for her time to paint.
I asked Ella to write about the relevance of Stuckism today. She has the answer that ARTnews never sought because it follows the publicist’s business model, never the life more abundant. Perhaps Ella can pay for these paintings and more. Perhaps not. Either way, she is an aristocrat of the spirit, and in my eye, lives atop the highest hill in the U.K.
It’s the middle of summer break, and my daughter is making a fursuit head, with my support. She’s attaching foam to a lycra balaclava with a hot glue gun. I get out my laptop to write about Stuckism, reading the brief aloud: “…the relevance of Stuckism today… how it can inspire painters of all ages…”
My nearly-13 year old interrupts: “Stuckism is unnecessary.”
Paraphrased: “Kids don’t need Stuckism because they already draw. Kids don’t understand modern art anyway. Modern Art is losing relevance and so is Stuckism’s purpose. Everyone I know only knows about drawing and painting; they don’t know about modern art. Making something, drawing, creating something, that is art. They have never heard of modern art anyway.”
My response: “So Stuckism’s work is done? No one is interested in modern [conceptual] art any more?”
Daughter: “I see modern art as a fad. Like heelies were a fad. No one is interested in it any more.”
Of course 12 year olds’ interests are video games, cartoons, animal costumes and RuPaul’s Drag Race. But I’m starting here because Stuckism takes art back to it’s primal roots: the need to draw and express ones thoughts, feelings and experiences through the process of making marks on paper (or designing animal heads, or working in clay) it’s the process of doing something, creating, making something. Children do this anyway; they are not tainted by the conceptual “modern art” rubbish that requires an explanation and a degree in Art Bollocks (art speak).
Stuckism encourages self expression, passion, emotion, spirituality, making art from your heart and doing it even if no one is watching. The kids might not want to know, but the cow-poo known as conceptual art is far from over. If modern art were truly dead, there wouldn’t be a bunch of cardboard boxes strewn around a local outdoor space masquerading as “art”. It looks like all the streets in Hastings where seagulls, wind and delinquent teenagers throw rubbish around. And two (con) artists came all the way from Lille to “show” these cardboard boxes! Even the sign attached to the fence says nothing, only that the artist’s come from France and do “site specific work”. Well, you could get the same thing from Asda’s parking lot.
More than an opposition to garbage, Stuckism is an international grassroots art movement, the first of it’s kind to use the Internet to inspire people from all corners of the world to take up their own paintbrush and just do it. Not to worry if it’s “good” enough. To make what you want to make; to bring your feelings into being in some form, whether it be beautiful or ugly—that is up to the beholder—and each beholder will find his or her own meaning. Or no meaning at all. It’s all about perception. There is no restriction in Stuckism; contrary to being “stuck”, the movement is fluid and evolves.
Sincerity and being true to yourself is all that is required. Training is irrelevant; many Stuckists are self taught, and many have studied art. It’s quite simply the sincere desire to express oneself in the clearest manner possible, using whatever skills you have, and making the most of those skills. Much Stuckist art is along the lines of primitive or “outsider” art, but this is not a strict rule. The only rule really is the process of making something in the most authentic way one can. Paint was the primary medium in the beginning, and remains so to this day. The Stuckist attitude can be applied to many art forms, and has been linked to groups doing stone carving, photography and even film making.
The initial rallying cry of Stuckism echoed from Australia to Argentina; from Kentucky to Kiev; from Ystalyfera to Karachi. It’s all on http://www.stuckism.com. All one has to do is say “I do” and you’ve got your own Stuckist group. All work independently of each other. Some are more active than others. One only needs to agree with some of the manifesto in order to sign up. All are welcome. Information is on the website; or, if you prefer, just get some paint and start doing it! That is the one piece of advice I give any beginner: practice. Just keep drawing and painting and don’t worry about anything.
So that is Stuckism in a nutshell, as I see it today. But the road less traveled? We are each on our own path. Any road an artist takes is a difficult one. The balance of time and the stresses of living in a token economy make for a bumpy ride. If art is your calling, so be it; don’t expect an easy ride—just keep painting your way through the mud, and you’ll find occasionally, like with surfing, you catch a wave and for a moment all is clear and beautiful. And that it was all worth it when those moments happen.
Ella Guru: The Fool Oil on canvas, 12 a 16″