Zombie Abstraction is all around us: airports, galleries, art fairs, it’s a duck blur.
Zombies aren’t sexy or clever or surprising. Walking decay that feeds on the vitality of others. Rotting machines that turn brains into shit.
I follow the slam until someone says “Empty Formalism” What’s that? I have never seen a truly empty object. Even the voids we make have the shape and scent of the culture that called them forth.
Zen abstraction is different from Muslim abstraction in terms of gesture, scale, character, color. I’m talking about style: that which you cannot shake, all that is you waiting already before your birth built by the ancestors and the weather. God is in the details.
On a smaller island, you can’t tell me that looking at the paintings from that first generation of Abstract Expressionist produced while living in a great gray city, the swirl and scale of it, that much of it don’t show more than a bit of farm boy anxiety.
See this Floyd Newsum. Ain’t that America? See how loose it all is, how seemingly unconcerned with hierarchies and pronouncements. But it’s a feint, designed to disarm while the hidden rhythm works your nervous system. Without buying into any essentialist bullshit, tell me, don’t you see correlations with other strategic deployments of hypnotic rhythm? From the court to the studio? From the ring to the floor?
See this Susie Rosmarin. Another iteration of the great American novel: the implacable system in which we live, the marshaling of neurosis as a productive force, the naked ambition of the damn thing, the paradoxical embrace of both the exaltation of work and the erasure of labor, and above all the convincing (perhaps necessary) fiction that there are worthwhile grace notes to be found in said system.
What is the true price of White Supremacy for the supremacist? It is kids growing up in dead neighborhoods that have been sterilized by hegemony and xenophobia; they matriculate in dead schools, and are later indicted for making dead things. Formalism is never Empty, but it was inevitable that the ashes of the dead lands would become pigment.
Sebastien Boncy is from Haiti lives in Texas makes photographs, eats too much, and loves most of you. Follow Sebastien at