Ambrosia, Food of the Gods
Realism is making a comeback. Not pictorial realism, which never really went away, but was merely temporarily overshadowed by the hubris of Modernism and Post-Modernism. It is Philosophical Realism which is making a comeback.
Ever since Aristotle conceived it, the Problem of Universals has split philosophy into Nominalists and Realists. Nominalists deny the existence of abstract objects.
The influence of science on philosophy (especially Analytical Philosophy) has reinforced the Nominalist view: that objects of the mind (abstracta) do not exist but are simply the way we describe the phenomena experienced as a result of the activity in the neurons of the brain. This is a problem for artists because all art is abstracta. A painting is not simply a piece of canvas with pigment on it – not just physical, but ideas, concepts and imagination – metaphysical.
In recent years developments, especially in the study of Aesthetics, have questioned the Nominalist view. In fact some aestheticians, like the Australian philosopher Jennifer McMahon, consider Nominalism irrelevant and identify art as a rigidly realist process:
Object perceived – object represented – object interpreted.
The realist approach is now so accepted in Analytical Aesthetics, that Christy Mag Uidhir has, almost triumphantly, overturned the Problem of Universals with what he calls The Paradox of Standards:
1. There are such things as abstracta
2. Abstracta are non-spatiotemporal and causally inert
3. An artwork must be created.
These principles, at the cutting edge of aesthetics, are also at the heart of this exhibition:-
An artwork must be created. Objects are represented and interpreted.
The old dichotomies - Realist/Nominalist , Materialist/Idealist, Science/Humanities, Socialist/Capitalist - are all False Dichotomies, perpetuated for no better motive than the enjoyment of debate. But the most wrong-headed of all False dichotomies is that which persists between religion and atheism. Wrong-headed because gods, like art, must be created.
And creating is hungry work - hence Ambrosia, Food of the Gods.