Thursday, 30 June 2022

INTERVIEW - Edward Lucie-Smith - breaking down structures that have ceased to work

Written by  Bruno Lucić Oct 09, 2018

The retrospective exhibition of Vatroslav Kuliš, Culture entitled “The Dionysian Realm” opens in the museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik at 7.00 pm tonight. And the museum and exhibition have brought one of the most famous art critics in the world, Edward Lucie-Smith, to curate this special exhibition. In addition to being the curator of the exhibition, Lucie-Smith has written an entire "library" of art books. In addition to the opening, the British visual art critic will be lecturing "Seeing the Sea" on October 11 at 8 pm. Namely, as the author of the book "Visual Art of the 20th Century", he will discuss the theme of the sea in modern and contemporary art. We caught up with this British art critic before the grand opening.

You once said that the "function of truly creative art is to surprise". How hard is it to surprise the public in this world of daily surprises?

Not that hard. People think they know, but basically tend not to absorb information that in some way or other challenges their existing structure of assumptions. A few bombshell facts or images will do the trick. When the young Jean Cocteau pestered the great Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev, begging to be told how he could make an impact in the world of the avant-garde arts, Diaghilev replied, 'Jean, étonne-moi!' But surprising people, in the realm of the arts, is often simply a matter of stating the obvious. You see it. They don't, until you confront them with it. They may not like you for doing this to them, but their world has changed. There's no going back.

What are your opinion, are the main functions of art nowadays?

Changing minds. Breaking down structures that have ceased to work.

What are the borders that an art critic should never cross?

Personal abuse doesn't get you far. Apart from that, not much. One constant problem is that too many influential critics work outward, from an established set of theoretical beliefs - Marxism, Structuralism. They think they've got it all sorted out, and cease to look.

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What can you say about the exhibition of Vatroslav Kuliš and how did you decide to come to Dubrovnik?

Basically because the artist did me the honour to invite me. I only know Dubrovnik very slightly. I'd like to know it better. I have in fact travelled quite widely in the former Yugoslavia.

You will have a lecture called "Seeing the Sea". How do the artists of today see the sea as a theme?

Basically, if you look at the way the sea and seafaring have been depicted in Western art, this has generally been a story about man *and* the sea, not simply about the sea itself. This started to change with the 19th century Romantics - most of all in the late work of the great British painter J M W Turner. Some of Kulis's sea painting remind me of him. The art of the Far East is different. In the paintings of the Song Dynasty ink masters, and in some of the prints of the Japanese master Hokusai, the human presence is incidental, if it is there at all.

Dubrovnik is a popular and tourist destination thanks to its cultural heritage but also thanks to all the movies and series recently shot here. Do you think there can be a normal coexistence between cultural heritage and increasing tourist numbers?

Dubrovnik is a port city. You can't just hug yourselves and say 'This place belongs to us - keep the outsiders out.' In fact, those 'outsiders' become part of Dubrovnik's evolving identity. Venice, not so far away, is a much more extreme example. Tourists are the lifeblood of Venice - its reason for thriving in the competitive contemporary world.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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