The Magic Formula

October 27, 2022
The Magic Formula I used to travel for weeks with no phone or computer and never check in with anyone. It would have been odd to do so. And this was in the 21st century, in case you are wondering. Not when I was 12 or something.
Three weeks is right at that point where you are a bit tired of sleeping in hotels, but also right at the point where you get used to the rhythm of being on the road. I do believe that if I had my dogs with me, I would have just continued traveling. 
I was in New York for the September art fairs to start the season. I liked the Javits venue for Armory, having missed it last year. Not sure why I missed it. I have this thing now where any activity over the last three years...I can't tell you which year I did it in.
My life often feels like one of those awesome rides at the amusement park where you are held to the wall of a hurtling cylinder by centrifugal force and all is a blur...and then every once in a while you can pick out your cousin or a friend standing above watching. At Magic Mountain, the amusement park outside of Los Angeles, it was called the Spin Out. It opened in 1971 and I was likely one of the earlier riders...It closed in 2008. 37 years.
I have been an art dealer for 34 years, almost as long as Spin Out was in service. I will likely work long enough to outlast the tenure of that ride, but will I be as fondly remembered?
While there may be a connection between the longevity of that ride and my art career, what I really did want to connect was the thread I saw throughout my travels.
These are the themes of Magic, Transformation, Dreaming, Transcendence.
In Venice, the extraordinary Surrealism exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, “Surrealism and Magic, Enchanted Modernity” highlights the belief in the ability of art and magic to transform both reality and individuals, as it is expressed through Surrealism. This exhibition is now at the Barberini in Potsdam, Germany if you happen to be in the area.
And just a short vaporetto ride away, at the other end of Venice, the 59th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale de Venezia, highlights some of the very same artists and also these themes of transformation through the arts, magic, technology and spiritual practice.
The exhibition, curated by Cecilia Alemani, explores ways in which the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. It is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else.
It seems that these themes show up in our lives in so many ways. In art; In gender fluidity; In the avatars we create on social media; In how we identify as citizens; In how we relate to the Earth.
The market for Surrealism has been surging the last couple of years, and also that of Magic Realism. Even New Mexico's Transcendental Painting Group is having a moment (in part due to the masterfully curated and gorgeous exhibition now traveling among several US museums).
When we transcend the reality we are in, or transform ourselves, what is the nature of that particular alchemy?
So, I depart from the water taxi and visit Arsenale and Giardini for the Biennale, where there is much ado about Spirituality, and the transformation of self -- often beyond our human selves into semi-mechanized beings. This connection with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and much of the discussion around art made by this means was also very present.
I find it interesting that all the talk I hear around AI is always in reference to what it will replace or what will suffer because of it. Same with NFTs. How can all of these new platforms and ways of making art co-exist?  I think it speaks to a very limited view of the market. Or perhaps a limited view of how art can be viewed or enjoyed.
Every day, I looked at art. Every day I walked for miles. For hours. 
I may have discovered the magic formula.
solvitur is solved by walking
For me, walking all day and looking at art was my vehicle for transformation.


About the author

Aaron Payne

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