I’m trying to understand this, so bear with me as I try to imagine I’m someone named Vladimir Umanets. At some point in my life (perhaps because of Coldplay?) I develop a fondness for the colour yellow. Then on December 9, 2010, I get together with a Marcin Lodyga, get thoroughly stoned — because really, nothing else explains this idiocy — and come up with the idea of “Yellowism”. Imagining we are the new Dadaists of chroma subsampling (or … something), Marcin and I type this up:
Characteristic feature of yellowism is the lack of a creative element. All manifestations of yellowism are about yellow, are identical in content and differ only in terms of form. Pieces of yellowism are cause of expansion of yellowism and are not the result of the creative process and evolution. Yellowism can easily be seen as a kind of creativity; however, such thinking belies its true nature. Yellowism can be presented only in the special yellowistic chambers. Yellowistic chamber is a closed room with yellow walls that is not an art gallery and because of its nature, cannot exist or be presented in an art gallery.
So far, so…yellow. In August 2012, we write this:
Everything is about yellow – this is the order, the final solution. It is imposed on you, you are not free to interpret, and you have to accept the only possible way of seeing things. This way and no other way.
If you don’t want to accept the fact that in yellowistic chambers you can see only pure expressions of yellow color – don’t worry, the young “dictators”: Lodyga and Umanets will not send you to a gas chamber (btw if a gas chamber was placed inside a yellowistic chamber then it would be about yellow).
If you try to reject the existence of the new phenomenon then better just go back to your ordinary reality or go to an art gallery where you can enjoy the diversity of meanings, symbols and references.
Perhaps some chap in an art gallery was snarky to us? Anyway, we add the tags “Hitler” and “Stalin” to this post, which also has a photo of Charlotte Rampling clutching her naked breasts, thus feeling very powerful. Or something like that.
Then, on October 7th 2012, I walk into the Tate Modern and see Mark Rothko’s “Black on Maroon”. All I notice is that there isn’t any yellow. Or maybe I dislike Rothko. Perhaps Lodyga has dared me to go and “tag” a painting in the Tate Modern and this was the most convenient. Whatever the reason, I sidle up to “Black on Maroon”, pull out some paint and a brush and do this:
This scribble, despite not being yellow in colour — perhaps I’m colour blind? — has somehow improved “Black on Maroon” in my eyes. Satisfied, I leave the Tate Modern.
You know, I’ve seen a lot of rubbish in my time, but this is a whole new dimension of tasteless imbecility. It’s not that I’m a massive Rothko fan, though I do like most of the works I’ve seen of his. Despite the fact that his work has transitioned to print in an almost manic way, there’s so much more to a Rothko painting when you see it before you. “Black on Maroon” is one I’ve seen and I remember the first thing I thought was that the maroon wasn’t really maroon, was it? I’d always thought maroon was a somewhat richer shade. But the nitty gritty of colours aside, there is a sombreness and grandeur in the painting. It seemed like something out of a horror film, rather than a painting intended as a mural for a restaurant. I can’t imagine digesting anything with “Black on Maroon” looming in the vicinity. But the point isn’t really whether “Black on Maroon” is a good painting. Why on earth would you deface it? Stick a post-it on it. Write something on the wall. Scratch out the wall text. But where is the sense in vandalising a work like you’re a bored teenager looking for kicks? And what the hell does “A POTENTIAL PIECE OF YELLOWISM” mean? This is like being “slightly pregnant” — it makes no sense. Is “Black on Maroon” now a yellowistic piece or not? And if it isn’t, then why the hell do this in the first place? The least you should manage at the end of this spectacle is a yellowistic work, whatever the hell that means.
The worst part of all this is that Umanets and Lodyga must be whooping with delight because ever since BBC confirmed the defacement and Hyperallergic put up their post, there must be thousands of people looking up these asinine nincompoops. Now, a slice of the world has heard of Yellowism, which should have withered into obscurity with Lodyga and Umanets. It’s not often that the variations of “Raju loves Priya” graffiti that’s visible on almost every Indian monument comes out looking intelligent, but Umanets’s little flourish has managed this feat. At least “Raju loves Priya” has some coherence behind it.