"Ode to bad taste"

The relevance of ugliness in contemporary arts





A few years ago we had a conversation about what we call "ugliness as beauty" and, to this day, it has been one of the most consulted articles in our magazine. It is curious how in art, as in life, there are themes that never lose their validity. The ugliness, the ugly, the weird, the strange, plays a very relevant role in the world of contemporary arts because it has become a medium in which creators feel comfortable. They feel welcomed because what resides in ugliness seems to be outside the rigidity of what is beautiful, patterned and serene.


Throughout history there have been multiple perceptual changes about the value of aesthetics, about what is commonly accepted as aesthetic and what is not. Since ancient times, the term “beauty” has been used as an instrument of measure of what is aesthetically accepted and, therefore, is also good. On the contrary, ugliness has been given the antagonistic role and, therefore, it has been endowed with a moral connotation that is closely linked to everything that is perceived as a caricature, a mockery of what is beautiful and good.


The 20th century and its avant-garde movements represented an irreparable gap within the aesthetic canons carried throughout the history of western art. Abstract expressionism was in charge of squeezing out the ugly to the maximum in order to transmit the deepest emotion (in many cases linked to the tormented psychology of the creator) putting feelings before the artistic object itself.


Later the denomination kitch arises, a trend that soon becomes popular and that bases its philosophy on the recovery of those objects that have been disqualified by aesthetic canons, to turn them into a mockery of what has been accepted. We could say that it is a deliberate appropriation of bad taste built with the intention of challenging the aesthetic standards associated with the times of mass consumption.


And in a society in which every time one tries to return more to minimalism and pure lines (we only have to look at the popularity of Bauhaus-style constructions and objects or Apple designs), the ugly is also gaining, little by little, land as one of the most powerful weapons of communication chosen as the carrier of a speech of denunciation.


An example of this are those accounts that, in the Instagram era, have rescued the historical dialogue that is established between the beautiful and the ugly. Decor Hardcore defines itself as an "ode to bad taste", an account that collects all the quirky, ornate and brilli brilli of our society and exposes it to the delight of its more than 300,000 followers.


Ksenia Shestakovskaia is the thinking mind behind this Berlin-based creative agency, which has earned the likes of millions of people, including directors of firms as prestigious as Gucci. She herself already announces in the biography of the page that "it is not a space for everyone", since her feed is created by the most bizarre interiors, capable of causing Stendhal kitch syndrome to more than one. A visual compilation of "wonderful things" that Ksenia herself has been finding on eBay and second-hand stores and that have served her as an inexhaustible source of inspiration to challenge the limits of what is considered good taste.

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