Uphirst this Pollocks!

When we ponder the challenges of language changes over time (and I couldn’t walk past the daily prompt that wants us to think of language in 2100), we think of Facebook posts that send responsible adults facepalming for hours on end.  All those “lv u 4eva” and missing commas that make grammar nazi pray for a global web outage lasting the next ten years, or a baseball bat and immunity from prosecution. The latter is much preferred, though.

It’s not just English that suffers the transformation from Sigourney Weaver to an Alien child-bearer. Russian, for instance, is getting just as beaten into a pulp that soon won’t be able to carry a meaning more complicated than required to set a date (@kk, c u at shelbys).

I don’t want to believe that this Alien English (or Alien Russian/French/Italian) is the ultimate future. Creative teens who practice it will grow up and realise “creative teens” was just an euphemism for “cretins”.

Even If I have doubts about the above maturation, I am sure the language of art will keep the language alive and kicking, though which directions it is going to kick at remains a riddle wrapped in mystery.

We can only peek behind that shroud of enigma at the art-related language of the future assuming it will incorporate the most prominent concepts and ideas of today into its words and expressions.


To uphirst:
1) to make a simple idea so overcomplicated, ten critics are needed to unravel it. A linguistic hommage (pardon my French) to Damien Hirst.

Example: John, you need to uphirst the title to something like ‘The Impossibility of Rain in the Mind of Someone Enjoying Sunshine’ to sell this landscape to a discerning customer. Paint a dark cloud somewhere at the horizon level to better drive the point.’

Damien Hirst in front of his work “The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”. Obviously, thinking how cleverly he uphirsted John LeKay, see meaning (2) of “Uphirst”

2) to borrow an idea of another artist, sell it at a high price, than pay a compensation in an out-of-court settlement. See Wiki for details.

Example: ‘I’ve uphirsted Mr.X to settle with him later for a half of my selling price’


Quinnesential: spectacularly presenting quintessentially a banal thought. A  hommage to Marc Quinn, who could sell the idea that the Earth is rotating as a revelation. In the early 21st century. Amazing.

«The Big Wheel Keeps on Turning is the story of the planet and everything that lives on it. It is our lives in time. Like the spiral of a shell, the world is in constant revolution» Marc Quinn.

Example: Art ctitic, ‘This white blank of space presented as a work of art makes one think of the transience of one’s attempts to create a work of art.’ Art lover, ‘What a quinnesential drivel!’


This is what people cry out when they see seemingly random noise in an artwork which art critics believe still can make sense, if properly deciphered into their incomprehensible lingo.

In the previous example, the exclamation could be, ‘What a quinnesential pollocks!’


“such”, but blown out from proportion to be sold to new rich. A hommage to Charles Saatchi. Also refers to the art of selling ordinary stuff at inordinate prices.

Example: ‘Oh, this is saach a revolutionary work in sculpture the Abramoviches would buy it.’


Derived from “hilarious” and referring to something Larry Gagosian would love to sell to Ronald Perelman as a gesture of revenge; something that makes the buyer of an artwork an idiot the moment he decides to sell it.

Example: ‘Oh, Mike, that was a hillarryous sale. The buyer is in for a surprise!’


An art movement that wants to bring art back to reality, to the joys and pains of the real world. I am sure it would surface up on the art scene sooner or later though not so sure it would prosper.

See you soon over a Russian artist who is good, but not great, and still worth a look.


  1. I think somewhere buried under his recent market transactions and years of media hype Hirst did some interesting things. “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” is evocative, it is a lot more nuanced than a lot of ‘institutional critique’. Modern art was always spuriously ‘timeless’, frozen in a White Cube vessel as if visitors entering the space were intruders into some abstract reality. To present an essentially mummified museum object and make it exciting kindles human engagement and triggers the imagination. To the ineluctable stream of consciousness of the living, death is an alien thing. You don’t really ‘know’ it until you stop.

    I appreciate people poking fun at a lot of art-world values and its attendant vocabulary – it deserves it. So, thanks for that. But I also think that the ‘attendant noise’ critics might try to make sense of, a works’ ambiguity and it’s ‘quintessential pollocks’ might actually be what makes art interesting. Gauguin said art was rooted in mystery, and although I’m not so mystical in my thinking, I do think it is best when it does things that can’t be easily of rationally explained. Thanks for the thoughts, James.

    1. James, thank you for taking time to write this comment worthy of a post, actually. It is a multi-faceted debate that I think may be of interest to many and indeed is worthy of being converted into a dialogue.

      I wrote about the Shark here: https://artmoscow.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/nabolelo-subject-matter-and-contemporary-art/

      I really don’t see anything new in Hirst except for his ability to package borrowed ideas. Not stolen (as Picasso suggested), but borrowed. I see Hirst as the Paolo Coelho of visual arts. He presents borrowed ideas packaged in a form that excites the modern mind, overloaded by gaudy images and missing on basic education.

      There’s a proverbial quote about knowledge bringing sorrow to the human heart. I think I’ve read too much to admire Hirst as an artist. I still admire him in a way, just like I may love a packaging redisign solution for a product I know to be of poor quality.

      As for magic in art, again, knowledge brings sorrow. Today, quantum physics can explain most of what people used to view as an inexplicable act of God. In 50 years, neuro scientists will be able to draw sufficient samples to explain how we react to artworks, colours, sounds, etc. with statistical accuracy. Until this is technologically possible, the art world would be promoting all sorts of mystic ideas )

      I have always been an adept of the idea that a work of art by a genius artist can never be fully explained. The more you explain, the more questions start popping up. A genius work of art makes you think and feel at exponentially rising intensity. Unfortunately, the less talented artists are fast to embark on the train of ambiguity but in their case it is simply an attempt to hind the absence of a truly deep thought or feeling. For them anbiguity is camouflage )

      Thank you! Kyrill

    1. This is something I fundamentally disagree with, firmly believing that the cleaner who threw out a Hirst intallation from the gallery confusing it with garbage did the right thing. I still have a lot of faith in the 21st century. It does not mean we need to really argue about it, for all opinions are welcome here!

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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