In Britiain I have experienced that many banks still have a problem when having to give mortgages for buildings made out of concrete. This goes beyond a love for the red brick, it roots in a deep discomfort with 20C modernism, arguably because in origin it was a german speaking trend, or perhaps because in architecture, British modernism happened long before, with the industrial revolution. In any case, since postmodernism this discomfort settled easily into the cliché “the failure of modernism” repeated by journalists and art critiques to exasperation, doing that here they fall into Prince Charles school of “architecture opinionism”, and they seem happy with this.
I still expect the unfortunate cliché to come out when I show and discuss my work, and I have learned to defend myself against it. It is us, people who failed: I provoke the reaction from the public, because I love to discuss the matter. I come from the tropics and often feature 50´s tower blocks, almost derelict, and deprived neighbourhoods in my illustrated talks about my work in the context of the Venezuelan mid 20C architecture and art. I provoke the audience. At the same time I have cleared up aspects of mid 20C Modernism that I defend as not representing failure but actually being a necessity nowadays. To put but one example, Max Bill´s talks from the 1950´s in America are absolutely pertinent today, when we act as if we were looking to save and find alternative sources of energy, and we seek to design and build sustainably. It was a long time ago, but nobody was listening. Of course these types of ideas reflect and go with certain forms. Some of the many forms these ideas can take in painting and otherwise are the ones I work with, and they are infinite. With a German fellow artist there were only two artists practicing what people call abstract painting in my two years at the Royal College in London. I am conscious that in painting either everything influences the work or nothing does, but to me Modernism is a tradition and a necessity, not a failed but an unfinished project.
Jaime Gili, London, 2010