Back in the 1970s, a group of artists expressed their doneness with conceptual art, minimalism, and the trends of current “good taste” by developing the type of work that openly questioned traditional styles and values with a determination of a raised middle finger. But it wasn’t until the art critic and auctioneer Marcia Tucker’s exhibition “Bad” Painting at the New Museum of Contemporary Art of New York in 1978, that these eccentric and amusing deviations got recognized as a well-known artistic movement.
According to Tucker, “Bad” Painting is “an ironic title for ‘good painting’, which is characterized by deformation of the figure, a mixture of art-historical and non-art resources, and fantastic and irreverent content. In its disregard for accurate representation and its rejection of conventional attitudes about art, ‘bad’ painting is at once funny and moving, and often scandalous in its scorn for the standards of good taste.” This punk-like attitude can probably be connected with the Vietnam war madness which was permeating the psychological scene of the US at that time, so it’s no wonder that in the current socio-political climate, a half-century later, a large number of contemporary artists are sharing similar approaches, yet driven by different ideas, motifs, or urges. Whether it’s the same doneness with the ever-self-justifying art world or the world in general, the lack of access to traditional fine art education or even the lack of interest in it, or just a pure rebellious attitude and nonconformist mindset towards anything that feels imposed, these artists just don’t give a damn about it all.
Featuring such names as Erkut Terliksiz, Derek Aylward, Felix Treadwell, Willehad Eilers, Evgen Čopi Gorišek, or Jordy Kerwick, the 1st iteration of Don’tGiveADamns was presented at Marian Cramer Projects in Amsterdam in 2020. Three years later, the same concept is getting revived at Volery gallery in Dubai, bringing a taste of more radical mindsets into a capitalist la-la land. Working with a variety of techniques, mediums, and materials, often ones that aren’t typically considered “art supplies”, the artists featured in Don’tGiveADamns 2 produce works that are purposely storming over established aesthetical and technical rules or ambitions. In that process, they’re unapologetically disobeying trends, traditions, or standards, not rarely reinventing their own past work in a new, seemingly careless manner. Allowing for different values to take priority, such as capturing and revealing their emotive state or the stages of the creative process, building unexampled textures or surfaces, or purposefully working with mismatching elements, they’re nonchalantly preserving the spirit of avant-garde without letting go of their figurative roots. Echoing the global psychosis built on the major events that shaped the 21st century, from 9-11, over wars on terrorism, drugs, and whatnot, to climate change, the migration crisis, the Covid pandemic, and ongoing conflicts around the globe, these artists are in a way proposing getting rid of old rules and starting all over again.