The contemporary scene, in the arts has become dominated by a form of Classicism that favors representations of static, posed figures in studio settings. Surface quality and painterly effect are sacrificed to a labored drawing that intends to an exacting mimesis. Technique is often overdetermined, with formulae and conventions cobbled together in no apparent overriding paradigm. Some artists working in this style have revived subjects of an overt sentimentality. Looking at one artist’s output of mawkish heroism and preachy millenarianism, I anticipate (with dread) that an “Awakened Conscience” can’t be too far behind. The worst aspects of the Academy are being mined for material, despite their irrelevance to the present; Orientalism, allegorical pornography, patronizing paeans to class, etc.
More often than not this art has become aligned to the New Conservatism and the Christian Right. I think it essential that those artists who find themselves in opposition to these tendencies, yet still believe in figuration and traditional methodologies, take the initiative and restore the dialogue of realism to a position of revolutionary centrality.