Saturday, July 24, 2010

Movement vs. System

Opera News published an interview of conductor/composer Frédéric Chaslin, whose recent book about contemporary music has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Frédéric Chaslin in his book, La Musique dans Tous les Sens (Music in Every Sense), "criticize Pierre Boulez for deliberately writing obscure, off-putting musical commentary and, worse, as a "gendarme" who employs "terror" tactics toward other composers."

Chaslin in the interview, related that his book has caused no problem in France, where Boulez is much revered.
My criticism was not mean-spirited, because I attacked the part of the Boulez system that is political rather than artistic. Ultimately I am simply citing Boulez's own words, and I don't consider it harsh to recall that he has said some very aggressive things. But other books have been written against the Boulez system, because basically Boulez is not just a personality, he's a system. So to some extent I attack the notion that there should be a Boulez system, because I don't see that an artist needs to have a system. Of course, you can found your own movement, fine. But to devise a system that forms other artists, or prohibits the artists who are not in the system — that, to me, is idiotic."
It is very interesting notion. I completely agree with Chaslin's criticism on the system, which can be applied to art world of all denominations. Great artists inevitably exert strong influences on follow artists and art world at large, which can form a movement or a school or art making; however, to insist on their stylistic approaches as the only way moving forward and form a system to train other artists and art lovers to follow their food step alone will diminish true art. Style cannot be copied; it will be be mere mannerism through cloning.

A long while ago, when I first took painting classes, my teach insisted on the abstract and flat style of his, and ridiculed my more realistic approaches. It was very bruising period and it definitely didn't inspire much in me. Luckily, his tactic didn't put me off and I persisted to pursue my own style over long years. Maybe, I will arrive at the style he appreciated most, maybe not. Yet, I can say that whatever style I have been working on, reflected my conviction and ability of the time, not just duplicate others' wisdom.

Stairwell / 樓梯 / Treppenhaus
Stairwell © Matthew Felix Sun

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