Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SEA CHANGE



 If life were a bluefin tuna, then my good friend David Schoffman has just swallowed his last taste of Otoro.  Found on the very underside of the fish, the otoro is like a waterbed - fatty and soft almost to the point of falling apart - but when it reaches your palate it melts in your mouth like butter. The juicy part of David's life will soon be a thing of the past so he's living the moment hard and fast as if he were on borrowed time.

Schoffman is having a pretty good run, or so it may seem on the surface. He never misses an opportunity to be seen in the company of some glamorous woman even if the connection is tenuous or even hostile. Long before branding became something other than the painful mortification of cattle and sheep, Schoffman was careful to curate an image of the artist as roué. Now, as his stock declines like brent crude I see his future as a struggle after some new, novel form of self-definition.


One option, of course, is the mad, mercurial éminence grise, but I think that might take too much energy. They say that about 80% of Los Angeles artists under the age of thirty view Schoffman with little more than ambivalence. The remaining 20% regard him with outright contempt. (Interestingly, this particular poll, first published in ViralArt.com claimed no margin of error).

Another option is that of the recluse - the mysterious eccentric who surfaces from time to time and captivates the public with visionary and provocative insight. Unfortunately, David has been spitting out the same type work for years and intellectually he seems to be clearly out of gas. 

I think it would be best if he just joined the rest of us old guys and simply took it easy for a while. There are things a lot worse than slipping into obscure irrelevancy. I say, save your energy - eventually this love affair with technology will ripen into contempt. When that happens they'll be banging down the doors at all the senior centers looking for the last few remaining pencils. 

By then Schoffman will be as fermented as unagi and may even have enough left in him for one last victory lap.







Monday, April 13, 2015

HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!!!!


Gustave Flaubert
Excuse my French but no other language will do:

"Être stupide, égoïste, et avoir la bonne santé sont trois conditions pour le bonheur, bien que si la stupidité manque, tout soit perdu.”  

Could it be that my poor friend David Schoffman has lived in California far too long?

When we were students at the Beaux Arts in the 1970's he was a wonderful anthology of irritable anxiety. His moods went from crepuscular to wine-dark cataclysmic but to describe him merely as an artiste maudit would be to completely overlook the unique subtlety of his pessimism. Back then he was interesting and complicated and maladjusted. He was a chorus of contradiction and was deeply troubled by the twin poles of faith and doubt.

We all were. That was the age and such were the times.

Today homiletic certainties are expressed with the cynical smirk of the carny barker. We all agree to greet each new wonderful day with unfailing hopefulness and mirth. If the daily newspapers mock our aspirations we are told to ignore the news and listen to life-affirming, self-help podcasts instead. If we insist on clinging to the messy reality of human fallibility we are scolded as scourges mired in negativity.

Nowhere is this institutional denial more prevalent than in the American state of California. With savage hubristic zeal social media companies promise redemption and bliss in exchange for simple submission (and personal information). Like the vicars of the Church who created a god in their own image our silicon prophets have fashioned another false idol wobbled in a warped reflection called "the online presence".

Our blessed avatars are always successful, always hygienic and always very happy.

Which brings me back to Schoffman. His curated self has leached into his brick and mortar sweaty-self. When he's asked in all seriousness how he's doing he typically replies with a grin as wide as a football pitch "awesome!" or "never been better!!" 

If corporate, institutional happiness brings such misery I think I'll remain in the grey dismal France of Flaubert.

“Le bonheur," he warns us, "est un mythe inventé par le diable pour nous désespérer”

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

HE CAN'T TELL HIS LEFT FROM HIS RIGHT


For as long as I've known him, my dear friend David Schoffman has never made an important decision that he didn't later regret.


Forever looking over his shoulder and neurotically questioning the purity of his intentions, David is the classic dialectical ditherer. 

Like the time he went to Germany to take part in the now infamous Suntanned: Painting in Los Angeles exhibition.


No sooner did his plane land in Frankfort that he started worrying whether his decision to withhold from the show his best work was a good one. He reasoned that if he put in a few second-rate pieces and get away with it he could at least claim some small victory over what he saw as the post-war teutonic pretense of contrite entitlement.  




Or the time, on a bet, he had himself tethered to a cable and while jumping off a 35 story ledge he hollered for the benefit of an awaiting camera crew "Vive Yves Klein!"

He also soiled himself in the process and for nearly two years afterwards he avoided elevators, large crowds and kites .


  video

I suppose the decision that David may regret the most is his alleged entanglement with the erratic Saskia Goncourt-Delcourte.



Linked by casual circumstance to several extreme right-wing European nationalist political movements, the beautiful Goncourt-Delcourte is also an avid collector of contemporary art. Despite his repeated denials, she and Schoffman are rumored to have sustained a discreet liason which, if true, would completely discredit David's carefully curated progressive bona fides.


It's hard to feel bad for the guy since his lifelong misdirection seems to follow some preordained and willful pattern. 

The good news is that as his own worst enemy the dagger precariously poised at his throat remains forever ambivalent, irresolute and irrevocably torn.