Control the Past

“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”  – George Orwell, ‘1984’

Who controls the “present-day” arts in Australia?

Is it the arts media?

What about academics who control high school history books and the arts history departments at universities?

How about art dealers in their galleries selling from their ‘stable’ stash of ‘décor’.

In my opinion bygone arts are distorted by the traders in art today, especially Modernism, my era, as it morphed into Post-Modernism, my other era.

It appears to me that the expurgation and ‘rehabilitated’ art storytelling is constantly happening, a point of view I first heard expressed when I was very young listening to conversations among adults who were appalled by encroaching Socialism from the East.

Editing via omission is the subliminal tack. Sadly, it doesn’t take long to conceal great ideas and misinform an entire generation. Replacing facts with fantasy and fiction is great fun, especially for the Socialists who are intent on controlling everything.

Why delight in undertaking the venture of “controlling the past”?

“Pieter, it is the way of Socialists to influence one way and support the opposite.” So said my tutor during a conversation about keeping everyone guessing. “The subjective Socialist claims the high moral ground when painting badly, then king-hits the good artists.”


“Well, the answer is money and its pervasive allure for the Socialists’ Collective. The arts are an industry where it pays well to have a negative view in everything. The collective negative needs to be suitably homogenised and pasteurised, Pieter. Whereas Impressionism is about positive vibes, the current scene is about ‘issues’, mostly depressing and ill advised. Fancy a life that is uplifting? Then do not go with the current artists; a depressing bunch of social commentators that scratch around in the metaphorical chicken coop, scratching for morsels to irritate us. True Socialism came along to depress you as an individual, make you feel insignificant and miserable. True Socialism profits sociopaths that run the arts industry in Australia today. What is a real pearler is that each of them will say the opposite is true, and the administrators of our country believe the distorted dialogue. How good is that?”

“Good grief!” I add for effect.

“Yes, indeed. To frame my view have you considered what happened to the Bolsheviks after Lenin came into power? I believe most of them were rounded up and shot at public executions. Watchers got real quiet afterwards. The Communists didn’t want anyone causing trouble for their new collectivism once the masses realized they didn’t like Socialism’s re-education programmes and history rewrites.”

“Is that time relevant to Australia today?” I ask.

“Certainly those times are relevant to us today with rewriting of our art history. Bravo Sierra, Pieter. BS. You must call out the BS merchants to enjoy Impressionism at your leisure and control your own time.”

A different perspective

The Impressionists of lore have been characterized as stolid and stodgily old-hat, moderately brilliant minds schooled in the world of ideas and the creators of the greatest experiment in art authority the world has ever known – Western European culture from the 1870s to World War 1.

The destructive wars of Modernism were most contrary, bringing uninvited baggage into our ateliers, adding new ideas to the commotion in scraps for attention. Good attentiveness made money and slap-dash ignorance sent you broke; an easy concept to grasp, yet some people are never happy and must invent history, fabricating to celebrate the silly collectives’ need for insisting on equality of brains and ability.

Concocted historical misrepresentations in the arts industry create the frictions between those who are misinformed and real history. Mischievous provenance and fantasia boosted the entertainment scene with its celebratory piffle about poor artists in their dingy garrets. The village storytellers’ mood was replaced with the flickers of film in projection halls, flickers of societal issues beaming into ordinary lives.

Witness the contrast and conflict between those who feel one way about art history and those who harbor other proclivities of belief. Some defend what they perceive to be their cultural heritage and others object, understanding issues via the new streaming media with its beams of envy.

In this situation you must be aware of those who are loudest. You cannot miss them as they swarm.

Then Australian politics enters to persuade and cajole. The ‘new’ concepts of the sociopaths arrived, bringing ‘new’ speak in the late 1960s.

The ‘new’ ideas go like this: “Think you are good? Well, then you must be good for you believe you are and I am not subjective enough to be judgmental. Welcome to Socialism of the arts collective in Australia, Pieter. We fought the fight before you were born and lost.”

“It is unfair to judge us on the issues of our past by the ideological fashions of today. It is quite an academic task to place oneself in the earlier times truthfully. We could use more of it. Additionally, the duty of the art historian is “not to invent.”

Unfortunately, as I look around my Australia today, wisdom such as these have been cast aside, deliberately, and for political expedience – aka money.

Socialism damages our nation and “controls our past”. Orwell’s caution I hear. Sadly, some are delighted.

Conversations in the Atelier – (1967 to 2002)

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