Contemporary gallery art is a very expensive, publicly-funded white elephant, a crutch of the elite. To call today’s art education, which feeds the galleries with an unending supply of this visual tripe, a catastrophic disaster, would be an understatement. It’s time we stopped pandering to its promoters.
Today we live in a West where multiculturalism has all but made us forget that Post-Renaissance European culture is what shaped the world. Everywhere, people learn English. In India, Urdu is dying because students are taught in English.
Yet language is not alone amongst our triumphs. Alongside our technological and scientific prowess there is another pillar of our culture: our art.
Last week I visited Bataan, here in the Philippines, for the first time. I was amazed by the scenery, which is remarkable; beautiful mountains, beaches and sea views, amongst everything else. What a richness this country has! Anyway, the highlight of the tour was when an old friend suggested going to Las Casas de Acuzar at Bagac.
Bagac is south of Olongapo on Subic Bay and is accessible by bus. Once again, the scenery en route is spectacular.
I was expecting a beach and maybe a nice old village — my friend and guide, Belgie, said ‘There are old houses’. I wasn’t even slightly prepared for what I saw.
I am drinking rum with a ghost. He’s sitting over there with all my memories beside him. He wrote the soundtrack to my life and now he’s gone. Now he’s just a ghost, a phantom. A collection of sounds and images, words and memories. But the real artist that he was has gone.
It’s a striking thought that civilisation evolved here on Earth only 7,000 years ago. Since then, humans have achieved many really incredible things. But even in terms of our own—mostly unwritten—history, 7,000 years is almost insignificant; it’s less than 4 % of the time Homo sapiens, the storytelling ape, has existed.