T h e   T r e a c h e r y   o f   A r t i s t s

words from elsewhere


The famous today’s artists… Could you have art from them? No, because they are doing just things that market wait from them. They are just a representation. So if I call them “artists”, I’d be lying.

-A. Gene Merritt: This is not an artist; 2010.- 



At the current times, science has a deeper voice than art. Contemporary art has become a refuge to conformism, and most part of popular artworks are products of designers and con-artists to be consumed by people who want something “nice” in their walls, and followed by mesmerized snobs who want to be “cool”. In the opposite way, science ranks the space of creativity and investigation, a space that artists abandoned.

It is through the science that we are witness to the renaissance of creativity in new forms of expressions: the current molecular biology, the experimentation with artificial mutations, the future of cellular automata, the theory of Roger Penrose about an universe before Big Bang, the object visible to the naked eye into “a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving” (presented by American Physical Society in a report four years ago), the creation (by Craig Venter and his team) of the first self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell… all this is real avant-garde.

At the blind consent from contemporary art, science responds taking charge of hidden reality. We confirm that body heat does not dissipate mainly through the head, glass is not a slow-moving liquid, the different parts of your tongue do not detect different tastes, deoxygenated blood is not blue, chameleons do not change colour to blend in with surroundings… Humans have not only five senses. Contemporary science knows much more than contemporary art about human being and about the world where the human being lives.



The formal logic is older than the sun.



The cutting-edge scientists must be focused in the world to reach success. Contemporary artists must be focused in success to reach the world. That is because the art market changed the meaning of word “success”. Scientific success consists in a new discovery, and artistic success consists in being rich or famous. In this way, if you want to be a cutting-edge scientist, you need preparation and knowledge; but if you want to be an avant-garde artist, you need to be sociable, build a network with curators, influential and rich people. Nowadays you do not need talent, even do not need knowledge to be an artist.

But that is a blunder because success consists, actually, just in a work well done. And nowadays most artists fail, because they prefer to keep focused in commercial success rather than in the workflow. Because it’s easier to be famous than make a good work.

Thus, day after day, we see a lot of failures sold by millions in auction houses. Nevertheless, that does not change the quality. Cheap or expensive, waste are waste anyway, never mind the market value. In fact, several excellent artists died ignored or without money. And several rich and famous artists die without find a single real success in their work.

Death start when spectators think commercial success is equivalent to talent level. And when artists want belong to the club, even those who pretend to be different.

I have always been a fortunate man, because I never feel so lonely as to want be a member of the club.



“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

-Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983).-

That concept works in science and technology. In technology you can change something and build models for the others. But I am not a technologist. I build a new model just to walk with my own shoes on my own path. And I don’t want followers of my model, because I am not a guru. I am just a being trying to express something.



The oddness of platypus forced him to be admired from afar.



I don’t believe in any movements or trends. The movement from today is a disguise of the conformism of the future.

At the beginning, everybody have nice intentions. The first surrealists wanted a total revolution. Some pop artists wanted to give a sarcastic view about consumerism and the mass media. Many conceptual artists looked for a participative philosophy about the world and art itself. But soon, pop art turned into decoration to a new indifferent society, conceptual art became an entertainment for empty lives without own points of view, and finally an army of pop “surrealists” arrived for to make trivial Japanese dolls and “cute” children with big heads.

In the past, the mass media target was to brainwash the people. Today people do not need the media’s discourse, because people search on the net the daily shampoo for themselves. In the past, governments were concerned about the iconoclast artists. Today, the artists know that if they are iconoclasts, they have fewer opportunities to survive.



An artist is not a designer of pretty foolish things for entertainment and distraction. An artist is independent from trends, cultural movements, religious beliefs or political parties, and should work without regard the spectators. An artist traverses different realities and expresses fresh points of view.

I’m not talented enough to incarnate such a high level, but I don’t care.

I know my position is absurd. I’m not an admirer of Ionesco, but I remember now his play “Rhinoceros”. Day after day, everybody turns into rhinoceros; but Bérenger is the only human who does not give up to this mass metamorphosis. Bérenger knows he is completely alone, but he can’t renounce to his human nature. Never mind if the human trend is to turn into rhinoceros. Because he knows the human nature is being human until the end.

I feel sometimes like a kind of Berenger. Even in the last act, I can’t accept the “rhinoceritis”.



Art is a spaceship of thoughts, a way to be unpopular, critic and full of possibilities. Art exists beyond spectators, because reality is richer than any interpretation.



Gustavo Charif

Singapore - Amsterdam - Buenos Aires, 2013- 2015.