What Happened To Art? My Visit To NADA

What happened to art?

This afternoon I visited NADA, a yearly exhibition of galleries in one building, as a creative representation of modern artistic spirit. Since most of the galleries have moved to the meatpacking district in the last decade, and with the restoration effort of the Highline, the whole area became an crowd attraction, and this Saturday it was a thick stream of people parading through the narrow doors of another renovated warehouse – now an art gallery.

Frankly, I can’t understand why people flocked here. There isn’t really anything to attract the eye.

Three gallery floors were packed with paintings and sculptures, hangings and free-standing panels, throughout a convoluted floor plan that can hardly ba called an exhibit of art.

Well, this is IMO, of course. And who am I?

I only studied for 9 years in an art school whose premise for the last three centuries was to teach artistic awareness, artful skillfullness, integrity of structure and building material performance, color, physics and chemistry of paint, and the fundamental basics of architecture and fine art. To me as an expert, this exhibition was an insult.

It was more than that. I felt aesthetically violated.

The matter is that most of the “art” that was exhibited made me wonder, what art really is these days. The majority of the paintings exhibited by major galleries looked as if they were painted by a five year-old, sort of like young Picasso wannabies.

Are artists of choice now color blind? (What an oxymoron thought! HOw can an artist be color-blind, yet this is what I thought…) Otherwise why would they only use the colors that create an impression of mute, discolored, smudged dirt mixed with mud, sort of an urban Goth, or perhaps those were the only colors that were available or the only ones they could find.

What was meant to say with paintings that looked like the artist was not well enough to finish it, and while falling, spilled the rest of the paint on the canvas, then tried to wipe it off, got tired and left it as is? Why are people in portraits or still lives are disfigured to the alarming point of the dismemberment? Why are faces, contrasts and shapes so grotesque that it hurts to look at them?

Sculptures were really strange to say the least. The mummy looking soldier from the civil war times were all that was missing was the smell of the graveyard, a plastic multicolored woman with grotesque yellow head the size of a beach ball, naked frames without paintings, an installation that looked like a broken-into home, and to top it all a mural of loud unmixed aesthetically clashing colors of what I imagined was a sewage explosion, in size 4 by 8 feet.

Who would want that in their home or office?

No wonder spectators were streaming out as quickly as they were coming in. A 90-year old woman with a walker, a couple holding onto each other, tourists, city dwellers. I noticed a little girl who pulled her mom to see a colorful balloon stuck in a tree branch outside, and away from the depressing art.

I looked outside and on the pavement a group of artist were doing an installation of spray-painted laying down on a stretcher person who was completely wrapped in duct tape and his face was covered with a plastic bag. People were watching them drag this painted over person away, as part of the exhibit, only to come back, and start over another demonstration of creative use of …. duct tape?

All that “art” was exhibited in small room like divisions, against perfectly white walls, with perfectly black dressed gallerists, looking into their uniform Mac-book-pros. What goes on in their head?

How can they make another sale of what is not salable? Or IS IT SALABLE?


Hmmm…. I was puzzled. I wasn’t insulted anymore, I was stumped. Stupefied, stopped in my tracks.

What is Art? Makes me want to look up its definition in the dictionary…

According to the definition, the word art means “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”

Of what aesthetic principles can we talk here! And let alone the beauty or appeal!

But perhaps I am too out of touch.

“I have been away from the art scene, working with clients on esthetically well-formed state of high performance and enjoyment of life. Perhaps I am too involved in spirituality of light and love.”

Perhaps the artistic value of these paintings is the modern aesthetics!

Perhaps it is important that we take a closer look at what art is today, because one cannot paint something that they don’t see in their head first. If this is modern art then are the artists mentally disturbed?? Are we the culture that is represented by the mentally ill, unstable and depressed?

In Russian there is a word that means “Not Needed”: “Ne Nada”. It is my word for the day. Ne NADA!

The impression I get is that it is a really what is happening in the urban Goth. We are on the way to accept this as art! Agrh! No way!

Does it mean that what is happening in the culture, government and politics, and what people are thinking and living is represented by the contemporary art portraying the destruction of humanity as we known it in a well-formed society in favor to the one of complete disfigurement, death and destruction???

Has discolored deconstruction become the official accepted form of aesthetic beauty?

I hope not! I wish I could be sure that aesthetic value of those paintings is just a passing trend, and that we will wake up tomorrow to a new contemporary art, the one that represents joy, love, pleasure, peak performance by the body and mind in the name of creativity and power of life, of being alive, of feeling well and ….alive.

Click here to read NADA Part II.

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  1. Morrin
    9 years ago

    Finally! Finally, someone said it, and you, Morrin said it very well. I agree wholeheartedly. Looking at art like that does feel like a violation and an insult to the psyche. The question is, why do art galleries agree to display such “art”? Stephanie Kraft

  2. Morrin
    9 years ago

    I feel like going back and finding out from the dealers, where do they find those artists? Who makes the choice of buying their art and where do they display it? What happens to those people who look at it, and to those children who grow up in a place where they see such “art”????!!!!!!

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