ART | BASEL 45 : THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE ART WORKS

Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM




The Director of Tate Modern, London, closed off the discussion by saying, "I fear that the current lack of knowledge in contemporary art amongst artists, gallerists, auctioners, academicians and collectors might just kill contemporary art and with that, something else, something we do not know what yet, will emerge."








RT | BASEL has now reached its 45th year. For me, it is my 1st attendance. My passion is in art, contemporary art. However, my fascination for contemporary art was only limited to the exposure I had on Malaysian contemporary art. I did once attended Art Dubai in 2013 but it was only to conclude, in the hindsight, that Malaysian contemporary art has matured to an international level. My personal opinion of contemporary art is that it manifests 50% story telling and 50% aesthetics. Some artists disagreed with me and some do agree. Anyhow, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. 



There was also a debate on Facebook amongst artists, collectors and gallerists on whether contemporary art is the work of conmen. Things got heated and some were upset. I wish that that question was discussed in a civilised manner just like how I observed in Art | Basel 45 in Basel, Switzerland, yesterday. They discussed whether contemporary is a garbage bag of things we do not know or a significant contributor to the development of approach in addressing societal issues. It was a fantastic session that concludes, if read between the lines, that contemporary art is not garbage but knowledge. The Director of Tate Modern, London, closed off the discussion by saying, "I fear that the current lack of knowledge in contemporary art amongst artists, gallerists, auctioners, academicians and collectors might just kill contemporary art and with that, something else, something we do not know what yet, will emerge."



Well back to my definition of 50% : 50% split between story telling and aesthetic, in my opiniom, if you sway too much on the story telling and significantly ignore the aesthetics, the knowledge quest in contemporary art may just render it non-art in the visual sense. In fact, what is thought to radiate knowledge may just have the opposite effect making contemporary are an incomprehensible subject matter. So far, Malaysian contemporary art has not yet reached that level and personally, for the sake of the industry in Malaysia, I do hope that it maintains the fair split between story telling and aesthetic values. It cannot evolve too fast when society (in Malaysia) had just only started to learn about contemporary art (the Malaysian way) since around 2008/2009 when the first art auctioning activities started in Malaysia. The Europeans started contemporary way back in the 70's when Malaysia was just about to enter the pre-contemporary stage, i.e. modernist abstract.



To demonstrate my confusion of the incomprehensible art works that I had observed at Art | Basel 45 for the past 3 days (17 - 19 June 2015), please find below a selection of my favourite pieces befitting my incomprehensible state of mind. Enjoy!



Something and Nothing
By Damien Hirst

(Untitled) Colour
By Michael Riedel

Under This Perspective
By Jana Euler

Crepuscules - Crepuscule IX
By Jean-Baptiste Huynh

Display #26 - Barn Wall
By Haim Steinbach

Egocentric System
By Julius von Bismarck

Life Model
By David Shrigley

Arab Spring
By Kader Attia

Scapegoated
By Gilbert and George

Your Space Embracer
By Olafur Eliasson

Wallformation Gelbmodellierung
By Franz Erhard Walther

Plastic Tree
By Pascale Marthine Tayou

Food for Thought 'Almuallaqat'
By Maha Malluh

Untitled (Blue Plazebo)
By Gonzalez-Torres

An Extended Gray Scale
By Marcia Hafif

112 ● Never Argue with Police Officers,
and Address Then as "Officers"
By Tony Lewis

Under Blossomb : Lousy Elegy
By Helen Marten

Stacked
By Ai Weiwei

Portrait of Marie
By Mickalene Thomas

VSG-Gruppe
By Martin Honert

We No.1
By Xie Nanxing

Access
By Rita McBride

Emma (Pink)
By Yves Scherer

Eclipse
By Claude Leveque

Five and Twenty
By Cosima Von Bonin

MammeryLooLoo
By Sarah Lucas

Albizzin
By Damien Hirst

Bamboo Forest
By Liu Wei

Paper Bag
By Susumu Koshimizu

n.t.
By A. R. Penck

Dialogue
By Lee Ufan

Zwillingstochter (No.2)
By Gregor Schneider

Plan for Brugge No.3
By Tadashi Kawamata

Senza Titolo
By Jannis Kounellis

Aggression of a Writer
By Camille Henrot

Orrizonte
By Alberto Garutti

Ecology and Socialism
By Joseph Beuys

The Watcher
By Jan Worst

Tool Vitrine
By Thomas Hirschhorn

Hollow Mouse
By Katharina Fritsch



I cannot wait to go for Art | Basel 46


*****



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