Pathological Altruism

Jesse Waugh
Pathological Altruism
Oil on canvas

These are my thoughts on this painting and what I learned from it:

If art attempts to be ugly or negative, it is regarded as "honest", "poignant" or "successful".
If art attempts to be good or (heaven forbid) beautiful, it is derided as "kitsch" or "naïve".
                                                                    - Jesse Waugh, January 2015

Divining Pathological Altruism

Modern art was a reduction. Modernism reduced everything to a cube and killed art - see my video Tracing Cellular Reduction. You can trace the diminution of brush strokes from Impressionism onwards through to Abstract Expressionism. These movements deliberately rejected verisimilar technique, usually in favour of what I call the expressionist trace - which can be seen in everything from Monet's loose brush strokes (which do certainly lend themselves to beauty), to Pollock's drizzles.

Expressionism - considered generally, and not specifically in relation to its eponymous movements - is an individualist phenomena in which the artist's trace is considered more important than the art he creates. This is a function of apotheosis - man becoming god. This was the true significance of Modern art: Man breaking away from the confines of Catholicism which is centered on the Christian God, and refocusing on his own being. That is why the art itself no longer mattered - it was the artist and his concept that took precedence.

This artistic apotheosis also facilitated the rejection of beauty as the quintessence of art by freeing the artist from the confines of any necessity for communication -- those who did not understand the art were simply ignorant of its value. Its value was in the artist's concept upon which his art was founded, and secondarily, in the interpretation (actually divination) of his art by critics, art historians, curators and the viewing public.

I called this painting Pathological Altruism because is was an exercise in exorcising the excessive care I feel for saving humanity by creating beautiful art and proselytising Pulchrism - my proprietary art movement which champions Beauty as the purpose of art. I allowed myself to discard any concern for the creation of beauty, and allowed for free expressive technique -- and even irony in the title as the flowers pictured are bleeding hearts and therefore play with the concept of excessive altruism.

If Pulchrism is to survive, it cannot be forced upon anyone as a dogma. I therefore seek to free myself from any fanaticism which I might develop in response to critiques of Pulchrism. Although I cannot state that Pathological Altruism is completely devoid of beauty, I deliberately allowed myself to manifest it free of any concern for beauty.