“Angsty Teenager’s Take on Art”
Updated: Dec 18, 2018
By: Fabian Rubio
I am got dang motherfucking angry because my friends and I are doing “Secret Santa” and I’ve decided to gift a Lana Del Rey portrait, but I can’t seem to get the proportions right. Have you seen her nose? Anyway, this fit of frustration sent me into a spiral of introspection, and not a pretty one at that. I am an art major: Do I even like art that much? What is art? Why do I burden myself with what I believe my art should be? What is art? What is the purpose of art? To the best of my abilities, I will try to answer these age old queries, but I suspect the result will be a tangled mess of ranting.
To spend these days I have been delving into the world of Kurt Vonnegut through his novel “Breakfast of Champions,” a work which makes fun of the human condition(whatever that is) and tries to deconstruct the concepts which we hold so near and dear- like art. Art, modern art in particular, the author tells us, is a capitalist ploy who feeds off of a false pretense of intellectuality. Although I hold the conviction that Vonnegut’s bleakness is just meant to contribute to the satire of his novel, there is no denying the elitist nature of art, or that a side effect of monetizing it is that it turns into more of a commodity than a form of expression. Then, just recently I attended an event at a gallery in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, for a presentation on the projects which had been held at a separate space, I21, during this year. I21; however, is neither a gallery nor a museum, but a “project room” located inside of a “tianguis,” a sort of indoor swap meet.
During the discussion section of the presentation, a rather fashionable girl that looked about my age, which is to say nineteen years old, raised her hand and asked, “Do the people even understand what they’re seeing?” You could say that one argument to explain elitism in art could be that modern art, much like Vonnegut’s novel, is meant to propose various concepts, ranging from harsh social commentaries to personal realizations and such, often in an abstract way. How then, could an impoverished social class grasp these concepts? I was sure glad when the posh-esque girl asked that question, because I knew that she did not mean it in a superficial manner, but was in fact voicing a doubt that I’m sure more than one was thinking. I was glad because up until that point I was thinking that the setting for this project room was genius, because it represented what I believe art is all about- feeling. An artist has an idea or a feeling or whatever the fuck and they use art to bring that into the tangible world, and offer it to the viewer not as a commodity but as a reflection of themselves. That is what art is, a reflection of the creator, and the purpose is to express. As for the viewer, a guy who frequents swap meets and a guy who listens to Stravinsky both have the same capacity for feeling, so that’s that. All the abstraction and design elements and galleries and whatnot is extra baggage.
Thus, for me, why was it important to get Lana Del Rey’s nose just right? I am beginning to think now that the frustration stems from my need to prove myself as an artist through technical abilities, because I forget that my worth is not defined by my productivity. I have some good ideas for paintings. One would be a pop art portrait of Donald Trump with the hair of notorious rapper 6ix9ine saying “Eskeetit.” But it is in moments like these that I must step back
and redefine my purpose; realize that if I’m going to do it it is not for external gratification, but for the sake of bringing into the tangible world the crazy shit that goes on in my head from time to time. Here’s another one that I thought about while I was mad: a cubist portrait of myself that says “I’m so angry I don’t even feel like jerking off.”