FANTASTIC ART BY DEMETRIOS VAKRAS
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In terms of art, "Fantastic" is not a synonym for "great". Rather, it is that which originates in the imagination. "Fantastic Art" thus is art of the imagination. Unfortunately, even this term has been commandeered by kitsch fantasy art illustrators whose illustrations have nothing to do with Art of the Fantastic.... This unfortunate situation is not helped when a search for "fantastic art" in search engines such as Google brings up both genres ... engendering an impression that "fantastic" and "fantasy" are interchangeable. When the listing of sites is governed by a site's metadata rather than its actual content, the consequence is one of not finding what it is you are searching for.


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A short polemic (A note on "Fantastic Art")

Although it is with dismay that the epithet "fantastic" is applied to what is "fantasy" (and vice versa), it is with greater dismay that, overwhelmingly, practitioners of what might be called "fantastic" are artists whose understanding of art is limited to illustrating narrow personal religious pseudosophies which border on, if they are not actually, kooky. One Austrian artist, of albeit stunningly beautiful (though religious) work, is adamant that angels exist, that they may be seen in electromagnetism; another, an American, whilst imitating the style of another, imagines that he is an empty vessel who acts unconsciously to the whims of whatever medication he happens to be taking, and believes himself to somehow be in tune with a greater "psychic" reality... 

Much of what is defined as "fantastic" is an artform which exists in spite of, rather than in reaction to, the prevailing currents of modern art theory; that is, instead of acknowledging the history of art for the past 100 years and arguing against it, they ignore it altogether and simply co-exist with it. Most practitioners of what can be termed "fantastic" would be better described as 19th century theosophists who can paint, but have remained oblivious to their surrounds and oblivious to art and theory of the century which intervened between the 19th and 21st.  The best statements articulating the raison d'être of these practitioners was made in the ArtVisionary exhibition held in the city of Ballarat in Australia (2004).. in which some very beautiful work was exhibited, but which, in context of the theory propounded, was stuck firmly in 19th century mysticism in which the art was claimed to be "intense" and "visionary" arrived at by "supernatural" means, "the artist as shaman"; essentially mediaeval religious rapture... that being so, would that not make the art in question fantasy...? 

[I suppose that in answer to my own question, I would have to concede that the Austrian in question, though religious, has a solid understanding that art is symbolic language (which means that his art is not fantasy). It has to be understood that ideas are communicated by different means: words are symbols for ideas, as are mathematical notations, and as are visual images. The image in art should be a symbolic representation of an idea (rather than simply being an illustration of a "fantastic vision").  ... John of Damascus probably articulated the most immediately known definition of the image as symbolic thought in the 7th century ad, and it is known as the "anagogic" argument.]

Artists who believe themselves to be mindless automata subject to the whim of imaginary transcendental forces, are exhibiting their own personal psychoses by means of their "art" (meaning that the works by these artists are indicative of their psychology, and subject to psychological assessment), and as such they have no place in the contemporary art scene (they are not expressing anything consciously & believe themselves to instead be "mediums"). They are anachronisms. 

It annoys me that my own art could possibly be associated with such work as described, beautiful though some of it might actually be.

And, though I would like to, I won't at this point delve into the current batch of "surrealists", stuck somewhere in 1930, playing long-abandoned surrealist games, in some kind of time-warp whilst in a self-perpetuating time-loop.

c. 2003\2004

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