The contemporary art world can cope with melancholy as style, but taste revolts at the reality of sad, severe, serious life in these painters’ work. The problem is, you can’t parlay it. You can’t fantasise on it. The authenticity of these artists annoys us because it tells us there are realities that rule us, The world, since the 1980s, has stopped believing in such a thing as reality. Money was unleashed from facts of any kind. Art became its delusive mirror. Art is fun, it’s a laugh, it’s entertainment, it’s spectacular, it’s cool … art now aspires to be all the things fashion is. And so it cannot accomodate the awkwardness of a Kossoff: cannot be a bone in anyone’s throat. Its success is totally bound up with the same fiction that anything is possible that has inspired banks to lead us all into a looking-glass world. I’ve tried to resist this fact for a few months, but I’m done with illusion. Art as we know it is finished. It is about to be exposed as nothing more than the decor of an age of mercantile madness. On what bedrock might a new art arise?
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