EDITORIAL – Pornographic or not, there’s lots to argue about with art

We can talk about cave paintings, if you prefer.

We can talk about cave paintings, if you prefer.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

FOR SOMETHING that’s supposed to enrich our lives, art can sure be a divisive thing. Call something art, and someone will disagree. Call something pornographic art, and someone will leap to its defense. Lots of people, as it turns out.

In Wednesday’s editorial, I referred to a couple of paintings by Atilla Richard Lucacs — currently part of an exhibit at the Kamloops Art Gallery — as pornography.

For this, I have been taken to task.

“Your poor fragile puritanical little mind,” Aaron Kehler wrote on Facebook.

“Your prairie puritanism is showing, again,” George Puharich agreed. (Fact check: I’ve never lived on the Prairies and can’t comment on whether Puritans live there or not.)

“Before you go calling these works ‘porn,’ you should do some research on what porn is,” said Emily de Jardin.

Jodi Roberts: “Hard-core porn’, what a joke. Some of the earliest recorded forms of art are cave paintings depicting nudity and sex.”

“In the end you’re old and boring,” concluded Dennon Stein.

And on it went, some of it fairly nasty. When you’ve been on the soapbox as long as I have, you get used to it. It’s common for those who disagree with an opinion to attack the person who’s expressing it, rather than argue its merits. Just ask Donald Trump.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that I’m not the first one to refer to paintings by Lucacs as pornographic.

He’s quoted by in an interview as saying some of his references for his paintings have come from pornographic magazines he found in the bookshops of Berlin. “They were dirty, very dirty, scatological, heavy on fetishes, very hard core and they were fascinating. I wasn’t directly using the paintings or the photographs but taking some part of them and collaging them into my paintings.”

So, sorry to all those who insist that Lucacs paintings aren’t pornographic, but maybe you should take it up with the artist.

There’s still plenty to disagree on, though. We can argue whether his paintings are well-done pornography, whether they have a place in the current exhibit or in the art gallery at all, and whether they have artistic merit, or — as I said in the opening sentence of my first editorial — even debate the very definition of art. Or, if you prefer, we can talk about cave paintings.

I will argue that some of the junk that’s called art isn’t deserving of the name, and others can argue I obviously know nothing about art. These are disagreements without resolution, but worthwhile and interesting if one sticks to the point.

About Mel Rothenburger (5787 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on EDITORIAL – Pornographic or not, there’s lots to argue about with art

  1. lorraine winter // January 28, 2017 at 11:29 AM // Reply

    Mel, during your tenure as mayor, what pieces of public art were approved by City council? Just asking …

    • Mel Rothenburger // January 28, 2017 at 11:56 AM // Reply

      The Overlanders statue in front of City Hall, and the Wildfire Memorial statue in front of the Civic Building. The Phil Gaglardi statue was approved while I was mayor but wasn’t completed until later. As well, several pieces of public art were erected in Riverside Park during the international sculpture symposium in 2002.

  2. I would agree with Greg,but if you,re interested in pornographic art why all you have to do is google ” pornographic east indian art”. Real old too.You can call mom and the kids into the computer room too or even into the bedroom.Even old man Trudeau had something to say about the bedrooms of the nation.My tax support,no; privately funded ok.

  3. Something that just drives me crazy is the fact that so many people do attack the person commenting rather than the comment. My IQ has been brought into question when I disagreed with a position taken byotghers (have no idea how they would know what my IQ is). I can only imagine what you get. Having said that, I will now make a trip to the art gallery, and I promise not to call your intelligence into question if I disagree with you.

  4. Things which are inspired by pornography are not by definition pornographic. Do you have a quote of the artist referring to his own completed works, not just his references or pieces that he chose to include in his collages, as pornographic? Otherwise, your case doesn’t hold water.

  5. The Puritans never lived there… in ‘Saskabush.’

    The Puritans would have thought living on the prairies was pornographic, like a prairie chicken realizing it had no clothes on…to boot! -Yikes!

    People are now going to ‘flock’ to the Art Gallery to see what everyone is up in ‘feathers’ about…!

    By the way: Two thumbs up for Greg, herein, for defining ‘art sense’ to private and public venues.

  6. Daniela O'Fee // January 27, 2017 at 9:09 AM // Reply

    I agree with you that perpetually unresolved conversations about art or anything are worth having. The challenges fuel the flames for future creativity and the critique helps us rethink everything.

  7. If the art gallerycontinues to have such content, it’d be safe to say I’ll never bring my two young girls to it to learn about art.
    A public art gallery should be about educating everyone. Material such as this should be confined to private galleries, not publicly funded galleries.

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