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THE DIVISIONISTS/ national gallery/london

From:     Antonio Proudhomme
Category: Art
Date:     21 June 2008
Time:     06:10 AM


We need new critical terms which relate to actual experience of making and seeing art. How about 
OVERWORKED, not more than occasionally used, it could describe this entire exhibition. 
OVERWORKED does not mean the same as working hard or carefully (it may be the result of the 
opposite) more an end surface which makes you think of lots of accumulated decisions none which 
seem exactly right. It is the difference between a Piero and some of his minor contemporaries. It is 
most vividly seen in events like the National Portrait competition, where through a crisis in confidence 
about portraiture, most of the artists are desperately trying to exhume information from photos or 
observation without an intellectual structure to support their activity or looking. I suppose Matisse, who 
reworked a lot, would represent the opposite of OVERWORKED, his final pictures look as though 
they were painted with great certainty and each mark seems right and could be no better, and 
painted as with one stroke. 

The Divisionists, and the national portrait competition are backwaters, and rightly so, but in these 
murky swamps we see the failures which define the glowing beauty of what is not OVERWORKED, 
that which is actual art.

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