R&D 1 | Rantings


It was good to speak to you on Monday. Some things you said got me thinking. I too suffer from self doubt, particularly at the start of a new art project. The demons that torture my mind enjoy questioning my worthiness as an artist. I worry if am I a ‘real’ artist?, what is the point of it?, and mostly, will anybody give a shit anyway?

Look at mother nature on the run

This pathetic state of being reminded me of a painter who gave a talk to us when we were students at Liverpool Art School. He described firstly the usual horror of the blank canvas and the episode of anxiety that pre-empted creative action as a kind of mental anguish and neurosis.

He (I forget his name), depicted art’s creation as a series of emotional highs and lows. And exemplified the fact that success requires risk and extremes, but that massive failure is the most likely outcome. Apparently a common result for him was to ejaculate over his canvas.

I thought of this messed up state of being as yet another example of the too-long-in-dying days of Modernism. I now see that creative, or rather perverse psychopathy has become the means of Art making. The gushing act of which has supplanted a recognisable tangible outcome, such as sculpture or a painting. Modernism was criticised for its grandiose egocentricity, but the recent Art scene has utterly commodified the idea of the artist to uber-individual. The sensation demanding public and curator driven Top-Gear-thrusting-Facebook-internet-porn-loving world of today not only voyeurs over the very creative act of wanking onto the canvas, but now demands that it be directed directly onto his/her face.


So, maybe we should save our anxiety till it is better expressed on the opening day

I also spent a while thinking about your other comment that ‘there has been no better time to be an artist than now’. Mostly I agree, or at least, selfishly I hope it is so. But, I wonder if that statement will survive the passing of time? I don’t get to see much contemporary art. I live in a cultural backwater.  What I do see, mostly leaves me cold. More specifically I fail to see a trend, or an emergence of new energy in art that inflames the imagination as much as does art of the past. For example, our combined collection of inspirations for this project, illustrate nothing from our contemporary art world.  Perhaps you can show me some examples of what you mean?. Perhaps what you refer to is the potential of art, rather than its present state?

If so I can see that the opportunity of art to be anything imaginable is still yet to be fully realised. For now, what I see is an art that is stagnating alongside a procrastinating world. For example the promise of the Internet’s global village has failed to liberate us as much as say, did the meagre black-and-white means of, but truly colourful results of, the ideas of Dada 

Cage fight

As you mention his name often, I thought I’d look more into the Welsh-artist-of-the-moment Bedwyr Williams. My first impression was, finally.. an artist that has succeeded in bringing London art school ideas to Wales!. Even if unfortunately he has since been patronisingly embraced by the Nation (of Wales), and now officially, his (welly based) sculpture  “gives rural sub-cultures in Wales a positive spin”. In which case, I assume his work Walk a mile in my shoes, does great things for the reputation of size 13 shoes? I can’t help wondering if his ‘thing’ will always be limited by the Welsh identity label, and particularly as being, yet another ‘funny’ Welsh man. I watched him on-line talk amongst several culture vulture types, on a topic titled Is comedy art?. I found the whole thing to be a horrible example of how art has become a means to entertain such gallery running bores. I suspect he felt the same way. I can’t help but think that Bedwyr (for more reasons than one), is wrong when he says of himself, ‘I’m not a performing donkey’. The real question to me is not ‘Is comedy art?’, but more ‘is art comedy?’, by which I don’t funny ha ha

Maybe now is the golden age of artists, but not of art. In my opinion art and artists now provide a role no better than donkeys on a beach. Where’s now the brick throwing anti-establishment spirit of the past?. I am left trying to conjure a image in my mind, wherein the audience has become metaphorically Duchamp’s urinal, into which the loving artist pours forth his best creative juice. Unfortunately for the sexiness of this image, the audience has become distracted by his/her own camera pointing straight up his/her own arse


Modernism in Technicolor

This project forms a part of a collaborative, eight week long Arts council funded research and development project. The artists involved are Daniel May and Ben Lloyd

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

R&D 1 | Rantings was last modified: October 22nd, 2020 by Danny May

1 thought on “R&D 1 | Rantings

  1. Ben Lloyd

    HI Danny, I went to see Osi last year about my project ‘The Road to New York’, I had loads of research, maps, books, ideas, scribbles, designs, writings from all manner of perspectives, and he looked through it all and enjoyed some of it, and said “you’d better make the kayak then”. As we both knew him well, you can see as well as me that he saw through all the stuff and anxiety about making and told me to get on with the art bit.

    I guess this could be seen as a lazy answer, but through doing you will see where you need to go.

    To comment on what you have written above, I think you shouldn’t doubt yourself, no-one can completely understand the crazy world we live in, responding to it is positive, but respond to it positively, as putting it down leads us all to despair. I think you may be trying too hard to find what you think so try to not think.

    I am aware that I am starting to sound sage like which is quite a laugh, I think thats why I have put off writing this, apologies in the delay. Perhaps our writing will find its way past this awkward phase.

    Finally perhaps as Raul Speek said recently, there is no time, as in all culture and ideas are timeless.

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