IAIN MACLEAN

 

IAIN MACLEAN'S WORK

 

OLFACTORY: An adj (Latin) relating to the sense of smell.

 

Humans have 347 functional odour receptor genes for smell.  We can recognise up to 10,000 different odours, but only seven to eight tastes. So most of what we think is taste, is actually smell. That's why, when we have flu or a cold, we can taste very little.

 

Physiologically, smell sense-receptors, which cover an area about the size of a postage stamp, are located at the top of the palate next to the Hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and the Amygdala – which plays a key role in the processing of emotions and is part of the limbic system (the so-called lizard-brain).

 

Unlike the other senses, SMELL is directly linked to emotion and memory. That’s why smells evoke memories and emotions so powerfully.  A particular odour can recall first love, a particular summer, schooldays, Christmas, a place, a time - instantly.

 

New research indicates that early childhood smells can never be erased and leave an indelible mark on the brain.

 

John Steinbeck expressed the power of smell in East of Eden, " I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer and what the seasons and trees smelled like - how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odours is very rich."

 

Marcel Proust also expressed it in Remembrance of Things Past as follows: "After people are dead, after things are broken and scattered.. the smell and taste remain poised a long time, like souls... bearing resiliently on the tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence; the immense edifice of memory."

 

In spite of all this there has never been an art form based on smell.

 

Perfumiers practice an applied art and their raison d'etre is produce pleasant odours/scents/smells to enhance people's physical attractiveness.  They don't produce ordinary, or even unpleasant smells that evoke memories.

 

I first started experimanting woth smells as an art form in the early 70s, but the problems of capturing and maintaining smells were insurmountable, so reluctanly, I was forced to give it up.

 

However, over the years, new advances in gas chromatography and mass spectrometry technology have enabled chemists to capture, analyse and reconstitute odour molecules in what is called Headspace  Capture Process. In other words, odours can now be replicated chemically.

 

So, science and art can meet to explore our most mysterious and neglected sense and thereby open up new worlds to everyone and, in particular, the blind, who have been excluded from apprciating our all too  visually-biased forms of art.      

 

With thanks and gratitude for the advice, of William Andrews of P&G and the generosity and help of the amazing perfumer, Angela Stavrevska who created the Jubilee scent Adamas, exclusively for HM the Queen on behalf of the industry.

 

This is an exciting and evocative new artform, that has never really been explored.  For want of a better expression, I’ve called it Olfactorism, after the Latin for sense of smell.  Why not?  Impressionism was  based on exploring light and Olfactorism is based on exploring smell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Olfactory Series

“Dramatic, to a certain extent disturbing. You certainly have an imagination to enable one to see deep inside and understand it.”

Zarco Ivanov, Russia

 

“Inspired and cathartic. Slightly disturbing.”

Mark Watkins, Switzerland

 

“Very inspirational and real.”

karen uppal. London

 

“Thought provoking, emotional and brilliant!”

Haley Constable, London

 

“Dark and emotionally affecting. Good luck with the slave sculpture project.”

Tom Hopkins, London

 

“A fantastic exploration of emotion.”

Adam Saltid, London

 

“Deep passion for people, the Human Race comes through. Really like your use of texture in paintings. And look forward to seeing your Slave sculpture one day.”

Romany Cottam, London

 

“Powerful work!”

Adam Hewitt, London

 

“I really like your interest in smell as a way of reliving past narratives. I’m looking forward to seeing the slave ship take off.”

Natasha Tonkin

 

“I like your work and the feeling it gives the viewer – specially the use of colour, which is really great. Overall, I think that anybody that does art, fashion or architecture could find it inspiring. It’s great.”

Dorian Yima

 

 

“Inspired and cathartic. Slightly disturbing.”

Mark Watkins, Switzerland

 

“Very inspirational and real.”

karen uppal

 

“Thought provoking, emotional and brilliant!”

Haley Constable, London

 

“Dark and emotionally affecting. Good luck with the slave sculpture project.”

Tom Hopkins

 

“A fantastic exploration of emotion.”

Adam Saltid, London

 

“Deep passion for people, the Human Race comes through. Really like your use of texture in paintings. And look forward to seeing your Slave sculpture one day.”

Romany Cottam, London

 

“Powerful work!”

Adam Hewitt, London

 

“I really like your interest in smell as a way of reliving past narratives. I’m looking forward to seeing the slave ship take off.”

Natasha Tonkin

 

“I like your work and the feeling it gives the viewer – specially the use of colour, which is really great. Overall, I think that anybody that does art, fashion or architecture could find it inspiring. It’s great.”

Dorian Yima

“Very moving work. I wish you every success with the slave ship.”

Ann Brown

 

“Very much enjoyed the exhibition. Very challenging and thought provoking.”

Annie Fernando

 

“Frightening and wonderful work.”

America Lopez, London

 

“It inspired. It stoked the feelings we keep deep within.”

Kayla Shaefer

 

“Very thought-provoking + I love the reds!”

Hen Rajasalo

 

“Like the use of red.”

Tabitha Beckman

 

“I met the artist. That was GREAT. Love the work.”

Leisa Rea, London

 

“What ideas - wishing. I wish you good luck with the slavery project.”

Irene Adams, London

 

“Clever, witty and horrific all at the same time.”

Alexis Smith, London

 

“TORN CURTAIN – BRILLIANT.”

Laura Kingdon, London

 

“Blessed with a rare talent.”

Yea Yeas

What the people, not the critics, said.

 

Copyright iain Maclean 2017. All rights reserved...

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 13.45.03 The new Glitt  copy

 

THE NEW GLITTERARTI - INTRODUCTION

 

Duchimp: Skip this verbiage if you prefer looking at pictures and being silly.

Maclean: THE NEW GLITTERARTI is an exhibition, a collection of satirical work, a protest, and a form of art criticism.

Duchimp: It coincides with the 100th Anniversary of Duchamp’s  (Or Loringhoven's) “Fountain” in 1917 and about 50 years after the founding of Fluxus.

Maclean: The art world needs a good kick up the bum every 50 years. Both Dada and Fluxus mocked the highly-commercialised and pompous world of high art with humour. 100 years later and it seems that the art world is, if anything, even more commercialised.

Duchimp: According to a survey in 2014 by Deloitte and ArtTactic, 76% of art buyers took an investment view when buying art, compared with 53% in 2012.

Maclean: And “81% of arts professionals said that their clients claim to take a future return on investment into consideration when buying art.”

Duchimp: In his Reith lecture in 2014, Grayson Perry said that, art is now a important form of investment; an asset-class and is the ‘A’ in the acronym SWAG, along with silver, wine and gold.

Big ass

Art is now an important form of investment; an asset-class and is the ‘A’ in the acronym SWAG, along with silver, wine and gold

Art has always been traded but, before 1945, most new art was not bought so blatantly and overtly for investment by collectors. So, what happened?

 

In 1945 Henry Miller wrote in ‘The Air Conditioned Nightmare, New Directions’, “There’s no real life for an artist in America — only a living death…If he is a painter, the surest way for him to survive is to make stupid portraits of even more stupid people, or sell his services to the advertising monarchs, who, in my opinion, have done more to ruin art than any other simple factor I know of.”

 

Unbeknown to Miller and just about everyone else in the art world, all that was about to change…dramatically. Briefly, after WW2, and this is no conspiracy theory, but acknowledged fact, the CIA was charged with promoting democratic Capitalism over totalitarian Communism.

 

They wanted to demonstrate that Capitalism equalled total freedom of expression, unlike art under the Nazis before and the Communist regimes in the USSR and China. They  chose Abstract Expressionism in direct contrast to social realism of the communist bloc.

 

The CIA spent untold millions to support and promote the abstract expressionist movement as a uniquely American style of art, with the help of the Museum of Modern Art and the Rockefeller family. Realism became passé as art critics praised action painting. Galleries, museums, and private collectors spent fortunes collecting Abstract Expressionist works.

 

Abstract Expressionism: "Free Enterprise Painting."

 

Rockefeller’s personal collection of over 2,500 Abstract Expressionist works ended up being worth an enormous fortune. He promoted the movement with gusto and had Abstract Expressionist paintings in the lobbies of most branches of what was known as ‘Rockefeller’s Bank’, the Chase Manhattan. He referred to Abstract Expressionism as "Free Enterprise Painting."

 

Throughout the 1950s, the CIA helped put together many Abstract Expressionism exhibitions around the world. When the 1954 exhibition, "Twelve Contemporary American Painters and Sculptors" was sent to Paris, the French press dubbed the artists, "John Foster Dulles’ 12 Apostles”. Dulles was the Director of the CIA.

 

By the mid 50’s, centre of the art world had swung away from Europe to the USA.

 

Fluxus – “Purge the world of dead art, imitation, artificial art, abstract art, illusionistic art and mathematical art.”

 

In 1960, George Maciunas founded Fluxus, a network of artists and composers, who wished to expand art beyond the narrow confines of Abstract Expressionism and who rejected the crass commercialisation of art. Maciunas had a set of stated aims as follows: “Purge the world of bourgeoisie sickness, ‘intellectual’, professional and commercialised culture. Purge the world of dead art, imitation, artificial art, abstract art, illusionistic art and mathematical art.”

 

Fluxus artists produced many controversial works, such as Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece”, where the audience took turns at cutting off her clothing way back in 1964. She did this over 50 years ago, a decade before the likes of Marina Abramović who according to the blurb for her film, “…has been redefining what art is for nearly forty years. She is, quite simply, one of the most compelling artists of our time.” Wow. What utter bollocks. Yoko Ono and others were defining performance art years before – and had the sense to move on. Many believe that Fluxus ended with the death of George Maciunas in 1978, but it continues fitfully.

 

For every action, there is a reaction. And art is no different. Fluxus was, in part, a reaction to Abstract Expressionism. So was another art movement... Baby boomers weren’t interested in big, ol’ moody abstracts.

 

Pop Art reflected Baby Boomers’ interests: films, advertising, comics, packaging, sex drugs and music.

 

In 1957, Richard Hamilton listed the ‘characteristics of Pop Art’ as follows: “Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient, Expendable, Low cost, Mass produced, Young, Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous and Big business.”

 

This return to representational art was anathema to such Modernist critics as Clement Greenberg, who declared Pop Art subject matter, “superficial” and “too easy to do.”  The latter comment is a little rich considering the painting process of Greenberg’s favourite, Jack the Dripper.

 

The man who epitomised pop art was an ex-commercial illustrator, Andy Warhola. In his deeply superficial book ‘The Philosophy of Andy Warhol’, he wrote, "Making money is art and working is art, and good business is the best art." Sounds like a Donald Trump mantra.

 

"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art."

 

He made vast quantities of money (literally) and collectors are still making huge profits from buying and selling his work – and that of his assistants. Ironically, his “200 One Dollar Bills” sold for $43.8m in 2009. Isn’t that amazing? It’s almost on a par with turning water into wine. His “Eight Elvises sold for $100m in October 2008 and “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” sold for a staggering $105.4m in 2013.

 

According to Gary Gutting, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, “…as Jerrold Levinson and others have pointed out, a work can be an important artistic achievement without being an important aesthetic achievement. This, I suggest, is how we should think about Warhol’s Brillo boxes.”

 

In 1973. Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Henry Geldzahler said about Warhol, “Andy’s going to feed a lot of artists for a long time.” He has, because he introduced a number of practices that have been taken up by artists such as Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Dickie Prince.

 

Like him, Koons and Hirst have hordes of assistants who do much of the work. Like him all three have been sued for plagiarism, referred to euphemistically as “appropriation”. Warhol called his studio, “The factory”. Damien Hirst calls his “Science”.

 

For the first time in history, contemporary art wasn't given time to prove its worth aesthetically and historically, but was being bought immediately by museums, which, of course, gave it instant credibility, kudos and, more importantly, value.

 

The legendary art critic, Robert Hughes wrote “No work of art has an intrinsic value, as does a brick or a car … The price of a work of art is an index of pure, irrational desire, and nothing is more manipulable than desire.”

 

Mundane work by a few established artists is hyped and promoted to the point where these super-artists are now multi-millionaires, while many outstanding artists are virtually ignored.

 

In 2017, a mere 25 artists are responsible for almost half of all postwar and contemporary art auction sales.

 

According to Artnet, in the first six months of 2017, work by a small group of 25 artists sold for a combined $1.2 billion—, representing 44.6% of the $2.7 billion total generated by all contemporary public auction sales worldwide.

 

According to Artnet, "the vast majority of these artists also have a recognizable style, making their works appealing trophies."

 

According to Olav Velthuis, a professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, "For many buyers, it is important that their peers recognize the works they own—and that is only possible if the pool of artists is relatively small."

 

“The art world has become the new movie business — it's the new cool…”

 

This is best represented by Arch flipper, Stefan Simchowitz, who said recently, “The art world has become the new movie business — it's the new cool...the de-facto definer of social hierarchy in Los Angeles."  God help us.

 

In 2014, Will Gompertz, the BBC's Arts editor, wrote "Money and celebrity has cast a shadow over the art world which is prohibiting ideas and debate from coming to the fore," he said yesterday, adding that the current system of collectors, galleries, museums and art dealers colluding to maintain the value and status of artists quashed open debate on art."

 

After an auction at Christie’s, former talent agent Michael Ovitz was outraged. He told Bloomberg Businessweek, “I am an art collector. This is not about art collecting, for a moment last night, I thought I was in the commodities market.”

 

Of all people, Charles Saatchi wrote in the Guardian, "Being an art buyer these days is comprehensively and indisputably vulgar. It is the sport of the Eurotrashy, hedge-fundy, Hamptonites and of dealers with masturbatory levels of self-regard."

 

He added: "Do any of these people actually enjoy looking at art? Or do they simply enjoy having easily recognised, big-brand name pictures, bought ostentatiously in auction rooms at eye-catching prices, to decorate their several homes, floating and otherwise, in an instant demonstration of drop-dead coolth and wealth."

 

”The market is corrupting art. it is also corrupting artists themselves…”

 

Philip Kennicott, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic of The Washington Post, wrote, ”The market is corrupting art, determining the kinds of art that get made and sold, changing the topics of art and ultimately controlling its future. In the worse case, it is also corrupting artists themselves, enticing them and rewarding them for bad, meretricious and superficial art.”

 

Is there any chance that we can put an end to "bad, meretricious and superficial art”? Yes, there is, but it will be against a huge and powerful tide of vested interests.

 

Perhaps the answer lies in something Will Gompertz, wrote, "At the moment it feels like the Paris salon of the 19th century, where bureaucrats and conservatives combined to stifle the field of work. It was the Impressionists who forced a new system, led by the artists themselves. It created modern art and a whole new way of looking at things.”

 

He went on to say, "We need artists to work outside the establishment and start looking at the world in a different way – to start challenging preconceptions instead of reinforcing them."