Alexey Stepanov: “Seedlings” “Саженцы” 2015. Oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm
And that is this… I am a dog.
Picasso is a lion. But I am a dog. Picasso is dead. I am not. Thoreau wrote that “a living dog is better than a dead lion”. As a living dog, I work harder than the now very dead lion Picasso—that is, I work in many, many more directions with octopus arms with results that he could not transpire cubistically onto canvas with one measly arm. I think he would agree. My cookies are excellent. Probably even better than his loving wife could whip up on a Tuesday night for both Paloma in the moment and Pablo to freeze for an upcoming November exhibition in Florence. Genius can become fanatical in purpose, like Picasso, but it damn well better be able to spot a finer spirit whenever it comes along. A finer whole spirit. Human is human. Art is art. In order for we wee painters to sink the Titanic of art avarice into the cold gray sea, the sensitive ones among us must shout out “Dog!” to Picasso, and all of the silly overrated takers who infected the twentieth century and beyond with acceptance of manufactured celebrity.
Look here, I’ve been playing this show and tell game full time for nearly ten years. I know of many equal artistically dedicated painters who could claim the same, and much more in paint, but each would have to answer to him or herself if the whole person remains in tact and fruitful. Hindsight is 20/20. Now that the biographers have revealed so much about his surface life, I can declare that Picasso was nothing more than a living dog who painted. And if he never made claim to getting whacked by nirvana, then I am a better dog who paints, because I am alive making myself lion, and fully aware of it. This goes equally well to all others who are painting and struggling with like mind and octopus arms. We are virtually everywhere. Quick! Look behind you!
Ignore the present day movers and shakers. The MoMA P.S. 1 is poison. Avoid it. We should not trust a non-artist to curate its art. One limo after another arriving. Millionaires without even one arm painting. In any artist’s mind, the director is a living dog who does nothing for his world, no matter how big or small, besides hoard bones of personal status and comfort. There are only so many hours in a day to become that special. Too much power. Too much control over some enormity (such as the world’s living art and artists), is no man’s ability. Not even superman could carry that weight.
I rode in a limo once. My high school buddy Scott Nicotera won a radio station contest to go see The Temptations play in Saratoga—about 70 miles from our hometown. We sat with two DJ’s and talked about music the whole time. I poured myself a scotch from the dry bar. It was warm and made me almost sick to drink, but I downed it anyway, because I didn’t want to lose face in a situation where I had no training, and therefore, any right to be in. I got through the scotch and the night, but even at eighteen, realized that being a full-time phony was no way to run a life. And some time not too long after, I felt the stubs of future octopus arms protruding. I vowed never to release the phony in me, not for pay anyway, and instead use my many arms to create the richest life possible with the limitations afforded me. So far, so good.
Because Picasso knew me in a future like I know him in a past, he would agree that your $10 suggested entry fee to MoMA P.S. 1, to see the games that a rich german snob thinks superb, would better behoove you and all of life to spend it instead on a local masterpiece, of your own choosing. Also, I am sure Picasso wouldn’t know what the hell is going on lately with all this conceptual theater being performed in art galleries. Yea, it’s clever, but a good one-armed painter could conceptualize the best of it with fingernail effort, and also give you paintings to look at for Pete’s sake!
I guess what I’m trying to relate is the humility and personality that must come through hard copy in art in order for the once living dog (now dead lion) Picasso, and the present living dog (most likely not to become dead lion), Throop, would want to see before purchasing and bringing into our homes, to share with people whom we love.
I leave the future to your own genius. I need you to juxtapose. First, a photo of two surface celebrities who don’t paint, and who subjectively help create a very unhappy world for so many, (Lady Goo-Goo and Klaus Biesenbach, the Director of MoMA P.S. 1), followed by a very short movie of great talent and humility personified, the painters whom I know, and will purchase work from in November—Andrew Makarov and Alexey Stepanov—living dogs-to-be-lions (and more qualified applicants for the director’s job. Of that, I have no doubt).
Buy it all. Yes, buy it all!