Saturday, October 12, 2002

From the transcript on the BBC website of a live chat with Jonathan Meades – author, journalist and critic – on Surrealism:

Q: True or false, intelligent people can't make art?
JM: That's a very good question, I think if you're too sensient and too intelligent you probably can't do it. I think perhaps that would be a quality that you don't know what you're doing - because if you know what you're doing you can't do it.
[Interesting, no?]

Q: What would happen if someone were to break the rules for Surrealism? Is it possible to be too surrealistic for Surrealism?
JM: Well think September the 11th. Well evidently you can look at the film of what was happening on that day and say as Carl Heinz Stockhausen said 'This is a great work of art' - that was a crass thing to say. However, it was possible to see that from the clouds and flames it looked like all of Max Ernst premonitions had come true.

Q: What is it that fascinates you so much about the fantastical dogma of the Catholic church?
JM: I'm a card-carrying Atheist but if I smoked cigarettes I would smoke Capstan full-strength rather than Marlborough Light.
[Them’s my sentiments!]

Q: What relationship does Surrealism have to anarchy? Exploring outside the realms of common sense and common rules?
JM: I don't know, I think that art does not attempt to control people in any way. It might suggest roots by which people can behave. It doesn't try to lay down forms for behaviour. It might suggest a way of behaving but it doesn't set out templates of behaviour - it is not prescriptive.

Q: With Surrealist art the theory is to express the spontaneous. But how can a work of art, which takes time and effort to produce be spontaneous?
JM: I think it's very improbable that any work of art of any merit has been spontaneous. The only kind of spontaneity is the kind of spontaneity that has been very well rehearsed and thought out beforehand - That's knocking the idea of spontaneity right on the head.
[Again interesting, eh?]