CENSORSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Balthus, “Thérèse Dreaming”, 1938. ©Photo by Oliver Berg/dpa picture alliance archive/Alamy.

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Museum of New York has recently faced the harsh decision of whether or not yield to social pressure to dismiss from the exhibition a painting by Balthus considered "sexually suggestive". The work is "Thérèse Dreaming", concluded in 1938, which portrays a young girl at her 12 or 13 years in a position that for the critical eyes of the New Yorker Mia Merrill was totally inappropriate. This led to an online campaign that gathered more than 8,600 signatures requesting its withdrawal when the same work had previously been exposed in Museum Ludwig in Cologne without any setback.

 

 

 

Bia Leita, "Travesti da lambada e deusa das águas", 2013.

 

 

 

Another recent case occurred this summer at the Cultural Center of Santander in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The exhibition entitled "Queermuseu" gathered more than 230 works by 85 Brazilian artists around a project that explored the artistic communication and representation of homosexuality and non-orthodox sexuality. The controversy sprang up a few days after the inauguration, and the social pressure by a group of ultra-right-wing demonstrators and evangelists led the Santander Foundation to close the show. The case was then brought before the authorities who, after carefully examining all the works, came to the unanimous conclusion that none of them had traces of paedophilia.

 

 

 

Detail of “Reclining Nude” by Modigliani in Bloomberg TV and The Financial Times.

 

 

 

In November 2015, the work "Reclining Nude" by Amadeo Modigliani was auctioned at Christie's New York, at that time the second most expensive artwork in the world. Chinese collector Liu Yiqian bought the painting for 170.4 million dollars. The curious thing about this situation is that some media applied to the spread of the news a flagrant censorship that concealed or blurred the most sensual parts of the painting, perhaps to flaunt a decorum and restraint adapted to the general feeling of its subscribers.

 

 

 

Dread Scott Tyler, “What is the Proper Way to Display the US Flag?”, 1989.

 

 

 

Without forgetting the case of the Russian singers Pussy Riot who recorded their hit against Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of Moscow, and ended up in jail, or the decision of the MACBA to cancel the exhibition "The Beast and the Sovereign" in which one of the central pieces was the proposal of the Austrian artist Ines Doujak, in which a King Juan Carlos was sodomised; the censorship of political overtones underlies some of this cases. Another example is the installation of artist Dread Scott Tyler on what is the proper way to display the American flag. In the work, a US flag lying on the floor was placed in such a way that in order to read a protocol manual one had to step on it. This led to the arrest of several visitors for outrage and the artist himself for violating the law of protection of the flag of 1989.

 

“Everything that reduces art to a subjective, subconscious and spiritual discourse is a total adulation that discredits the art world”

Lino Lago looking forward inspiration in daily life to create a painting with a great conceptual load. In his most recent series entitled Fake Abstract, which he will exhibit at Art Madrid with the Moret Art Gallery, he plays with the characteristic elements of abstract painting: line and colour, where under a painting of flat colours they are guessed, through lines, famous classic portraits.

 

His work has been exhibited in renowned national and international spaces such as the Flint Institute of Michigan and the outstanding George Adams Gallery in New York and has participated in important fairs such as Arco, Art Miami or Art Fair “SH Contemporary 09″ from Shanghai.

 

Moret Art brings your production back to the Fair. How do you feel your work fits in Art Madrid?

Works of art today reflect the individualism of their authors; works of art are mobile, they travel and fit anywhere. Needless to say that this individualism is a generalized feature. There is another more academic art which is institutionalized art, less free. Art in Institutions and Government museums is the only one that has reliable regulated guidelines when it comes to “fit” in such places. In this case I normally refer to propaganda art. Art Fairs are generally perfect places to find free art (if that were possible, or made sense to some extent, or if we understand art as a social phenomenon based on liberty.)

 

In your work we can perceive the questioning of the glance as an abstract concept. How do you think contemporary art is viewed today?

There is a social stream that views art with some criticism and skepticism. I think this is healthy and it has a foundation that we do not want to analyze in depth. If we compared it to some other areas we would understand why. For example, in sports we can clearly see a more normal “justice.” He who is objectively faster or stronger wins. Talent in the sports world is something evident and because of that sports are disdained by the world of art. I believe anyone can reach their own conclusions. By all means Art is (in theory) an intellectual phenomenon, which does not mean that art turns intelligent anyone who approaches it, just as anyone who touches a soccer ball is not a Maradona. As an intellectual phenomenon it is impossible for art not to have lots of misguided argumentations, false judgments, sophistry, and hot air.

Your work has been recognized internationally on many occasions… Do you believe that artistic recognition is a dynamic facet?

More than dynamic. The results an artist needs are the sequel of the relationship between the artist and his work and society. This is something that is not learnt in any university.

 

As an artist, what do you feel committed to?

With liberty. This word has almost been shunned from the paraphernalia of today’s art. I am very critical with official art which is nothing but academe. In my work I introduce 19th-century academe as an ironic way of pointing out this problem: I believe that postmodern education and philosophy have been, and still are, a hoax that has diminished the intellectual capability of the humanities.

 

Criticism through irony over a great technical mastery is your hallmark. Although you have a diverse production… do you feel a unity in your work as a whole? Is that generated consciously or is it a natural artistic trait?

In my case I am aware of it. Besides, it is the process of hard work. To speak of naturalness, and above all to speak of unconsciousness is an aberration. Whatever reduces art to a subjective subconscious or spiritual discourse is an all-out sham that discredits the world of art.

 

Do you believe that artistic originality is getting to be difficult to find? Is it there where the value of your work rests?

I believe so. Although the difficulty here is to decide what to be original means. In times where the cultural predominance is in the hands of the passing anecdote, the emptiness, and the all goes… perhaps originality might be something else, right?

 

The gallery Moret Art will present the recent art works of the artists: Daniel Sueiras, Xurxo Gómez-Chao, Miguel Piñeiro, Pilar Diez