It has been fashionable for some time now (longer than anyone really cares to remember)
to ask--rhetorically or not--where (post-, post-post-) modern art is going.
With the work of Carsten Stehr we're already one giant step on the way.
With no questions asked--and no turning back.
If modern art--like quantum physics--made the act of viewing as much a
part of the work as the supposed traditional object of attention;
and post-modern art--Chaos, Complexity & Friends--turned this unwitting
subject into a self-replicating, self-ironising fractal reflection of all that is--
here we have pure String Theory.
No subject, no object, no references to hang onto.
No experimental dithering, just Being (or Becoming)--and one's (in)ability to grasp it.
The ground--seemingly biological, cellular, living--from which, out of which,
everything springs (and falls back).
The Ur-basement floor on which impulses twitch, neurological units vibrate,
forms first take shape.
As with Rothko, the spectator is not asked to see any thing. It might even be
preferable to close one's eyes--to sense the play of light on one's eyelids,
rather than focusing on any out there. Stehr knows there's only in here --
and he goes after it without hesitation--let others tinker with technique,
pontificate about influences--he's interested only in getting to the bottom of things,
and isn't about to temporize or take baby-steps. This is artistic scuba.
You'd better not be afraid of the dark--and it's advisable to bring your air with you.
In truth, it's almost off-putting to stand in front of one of these zoophytic groupings--
and be unable to do more than synaptically react along with the amorphous entities
so unpretentiously presented on the canvas before you. Unless, that is,
(when the light is just right and the soul calms) you happen to find yourself in
(almost complete) harmony with them.
But, what are we to think of it? Nothing, or everything, as you like.
Is it "art"...? Oh, most certainly...unless it's not.
But, it isn't very clever, is it? Not a bit.
It is, on the other hand, as primal as you can find. And wonderful.
Wonderful, principally, in that any contemporary painter capable of such work
has to forget more than most people know before he can even touch the canvas.
Wonderful, too, in that so many of the chattering, hyper-theoretical,
neurotic/narcotic nuances of the mice-in-a-cage artistic mentality, the pseudo-
problems of the early-Oughts art scene have simply been...ignored. Let somebody
else worry about them. We've got something more important--more captivating-- to do.
In short, let someone else answer the phone--we're going home.
b.t. Wall Paris 2005
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