Excessivism is an art movement which was introduced in 2015 by American artist and curator Kaloust Guedel with an exhibition titled Excessivist Initiative. A preview of the exhibition written by art critic and curator Shana Nys Dambrot, titled “Excessivism: Irony, Imbalance and a New Rococo” was published in the Huffington Post. Its early adopters go back to late 20th century.
Excessive – to go beyond the usual, necessary, or proper limit or degree. To have a certain urge ”to acquire material goods beyond one’s needs and often means.”. Excessivism, as a new global art movement, tends to be a commentary on the economic materialism. The movement draws our attention to a capitalist system where it’s all about profits at all, or better yet, minimal costs, meaning there’s absolutely no consideration of aspects like the human and the environmental ones. While one part of our world squanders precious natural resources, the other suffers on the edge of survival, neglected and in isolation, and proofs of such situation inevitably appear on a daily basis. Experimenting with materials and techniques, Excessivism uses notions of abstraction to express both the attraction and the absurdity of the money-driven lifestyle.
Excessivism is a reflection, examination, or investigation of every aspect of life in excessive state with particular consideration to the areas that have real and consequential effect on the members of the society. Subject areas are, but not limited to, economics, politics and psychology. In the area of economics it is a commentary on economic materialism. It reflects, examines and investigates the excessive desire to acquire material goods beyond one’s needs and often means. Excessivism depicts the excessive use of resources in an exaggerated way, by means of two- or three-dimensional visual creations, written or spoken words, or in any other manner. It aims at a reflection, examination, or investigation of the capitalist system, devoid of aesthetic, legal, commercial, ethical, moral, racial, or religious considerations.
The goal of the capitalist system is to deliver profit for private investors, or corporations (without consideration of consequences including human and environmental), as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth. Said structure provides incomparable contribution to economic growth, employment and prosperity. According to determinism, freedom of choice is illusory and society is positioned to function as a reliable producer of excess, the lubricant of the capitalist engine.
In politics the leaders become misleaders only to serve the interests of their contributors, whose interests are more often than not, opposed to the interests of their electors.
The inaugural exhibition of Excessivism took place in LA Artcore Brewery Annex gallery with the title “Excessivist Initiative”. And the Excessivism Manifesto was published in Downtown News weekly in September 2015. According to an art critic Shana Nys Dambrot the idea was conceived in the studio of the founder based on his personal realizations of his relationship as a consumer with the capitalist environment. Excessivism was introduced to the Los Angeles art scene in November 2014 in the Red Pipe gallery in an exhibition titled Excess The New Norm. It was curated by art critic, publisher and curator Mat Gleason.
The artists included in the inaugural exhibition were Brett Baker, Christophe Baudson, Andrew Dadson, Ian Davenport, Jonas Etter, Kaloust Guedel, Don Harger, Zhu Jinshi, Fabian Marcacio, Roxy Paine, Scott Richter, Samvel Saghatelian, Elizabeth Sheppell, Michael Toenges, Michael Villarreal, Danh Vō, Cullen Washington jr., Brigid Watson, Leslie Wayne, Ai Weiwei and Zadik Zadikian.
As the leading voice in the contemporary art movement that is Excessivism, Kaloust Guedel and his artworks rely on its criticizing principles. Through his latest endeavors, he aims to re-define physical and conceptual boundaries of painting by turning it into organic sculptures, architectural elements, installations. His objects, “bought” rather than “found”, are implemented within his multimedia works, starting a conversation which goes well beyond their surface. In his practice, Kaloust Guedel uses materials like glass, vinyl, metal and acrylic to create space-occupying paintings and installations, as forms of icons of luxury. As if caught between the aesthetics of Kitsch art as the backbone of his art’s appearance, and Pop Art as the idea to fight society by turning its own weapon against it, Kaloust Guedel set among the artists who create commentary on social and political situation with both satire and satisfaction.
Excessivism paintings are basically built by thick layers of paint, emphasizing the role of the material as the carrier and the consignor of the Excessivist message, the subject and the object of its complex narratives. These are the works whose story crosses both physical and conceptual borders through its great volume, directly calling out the same problem that’s been happening in the outside world, right before our very eyes.
Excessivism Artist also uses portraiture, drawing, photographic collages, painting, you name it, to depict the world we live in with a grotesque, satirical, tongue-in-cheek tone. Or Zadik Zadikian, who uses gold to “stack” his sculptural elements together for a more than obvious Excessivist statement. Or Danh Vō, with his hyperrealistic bronze installations which assign new meanings to ordinary things, just because they can. Because a world led by consumerist ideals such as ours provides an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the Excessivism artists, as it is exempt of any legal, ethical, moral or aesthetic consideration.