Explorations, Structures, Observations, Analyses, Canons: Who Can Say That Contemporary Art Is All About Unchecked Freedoms?


  • Lanfranco Aceti


The article will analyze the artistic practice of two artists –Jane Prophet and Paul Catanese– within the context of contemporary art at the intersection of new media, science and technology.

The construct that contemporary art is all about unchecked creativity and freedom is an inheritance of romantic ideas that are inspired by the ”˜genius’ of creation and are based on the rejection of previous centuries’ aesthetic forms, structures and skills. By retracing the concept of Genius to Kant it is possible to see that in the philosopher’s analysis of the relationship between art and genius, the latter is able to create art because of the rules bestowed upon him by Nature. [1]

The current ”˜ideological aesthetic conflict’ [2] between David Hockney and Damien Hirst on the modalities of production is a reflection of two opposite approaches where one focuses on skills formed through canons, structures, observation and repetitions while the other adopts forms of production in the construction of the poetic that are based on post industrial relationships –the artworks are physically done by someone else and the artist limits his contribution to selection and branding of the chosen pieces with his signature.

The exhibition E-scapes: Artistic Explorations of Nature and Science at Kasa Gallery, Istanbul, co-curated by myself and Vince Dziekan, presents the work of Prophet and Catanese in this larger context and analyzes two different approaches that are rooted in an artistic practice that reflects canons, methodologies and approaches typical of skill based aesthetics.

Keywords: Curating, contemporary art, new media art, explorations, structures, observations, analyses, canons.