Andre Wallace

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tate Modern Richard Hamilton yet again?

This week brings this news, make your own judgement about the substance, would not possibly want to comment enough of that on the chat lines!

Most contemporary art press is concerned with the deceased Richard Hamilton big exhibition at Tate Modern this week. Why another show so soon after the last?  Suspect it may be something to do with the fact that so many of us are sick to the back teeth of Duchamp promotion so it has to be reinforced.
Laura Cumming at the Guardian is enthralled but she does acknowledge Hamilton's obsession with Duchamp as a bad thing. The trouble with most of Hamilton's work is that the older one gets the less humanity it conveys, art for the semi-detached, those without any shed to work in. He did some execrable paintings over the years but you aren't going to see the ones with a complete absence of sensibility anytime soon. Over stretching the boundaries of taste was something that he never seemed to have worried about, it was all only another possible strategy for furthering the wet white liberal arts project. Cumming remarks that it takes the viewers own reflection in a mirror to bring any of the work to life.

Brian sewell is quite cogent at the Standard but he does go on about Fecal artistry as if this is a good thing instead of abysmally questionable taste. Some fecal paintings are missing from the show and it was a thing with Hamilton. Peter Fuller put it straight in 1975 when he said "he hadn't realised what a whore of an artist Hamilton was." The fact is that Hamilton never left his technical draughtsmanship behind, he just didn't appreciate the fact that the image involves the creation of artists own feeling's and then those of the viewer. There is precious little feeling in any of his cerebral exercises as with the sainted Marcel - his obsession.  As Sewell puts it:"The consequence of this, alas, is that much of his work, once the freshness has worn off, is at best sardonic, whimsical or wittily mischievous and, at worst, not super-cool but shallow, vapid, trivial and as stale as a discarded cliché, perfectly mirroring his time."

Waldemar Januszczak seems to suspend judgement when looking at Hamilton's work and makes huge assertions about his influence - blaming him for Newcastle University's art department being the original home of conceptual art via it's obsession with Duchamp.  Fact is, conceptual strategies are easy compared to the labour of love that depiction can be. Saying that the show is brilliant and important he also argues that Hamilton was some sort of Hogarth! nope don't go with this one, he wasn't a man of the people.

Mark Hudson at the Telegraph says it's all a knockout - but then he's too young to know whether it is or isn't? Just whittles on about the works that impressed him as if they haven't been shown before, which is a good argument for ensuring that your art critics have all the age and wisdom of Mr Sewell. He summarises with this; "Whether he was ever Britain’s “greatest artist” feels too banal a question to ask of so complex and avowedly tricky an artist. If his work is uneven, it’s better to be flawed and interesting, as I'm sure Hamilton would have said himself, than consistent and boring." Amen to that.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Waldemar Januszczak and others on Martin Creed

Martin Creed has been awarded a retrospective which is interesting for this reason; He is an artist who has redefined the aesthetics of nothing in a very significant way - but the idea that nothing comes of nothing and nothing ever will - predominates his efforts!

All art has an element of open interpretation in that it requires a contribution from the viewer which usually termed appreciation, impressionism being the obvious example. With Creed the idea has to be reconstituted or contributed by the viewer, as there is literally nothing else. In fact the lack of the visual evidence is such that nothing manages to disguise itself as intelligence which is quite a nifty achievement.

Jonathan Jones in the Guardian is his usual obsequious self. He says that everything in Creed’s art is on the point of disappearing and is often dismissed as empty gestures. This of course is what they are, meaningless. Such as the oft hyped sore about a small sheet of crumpled A4 paper which Creed sent to Sir Nicholas Serota and which was returned by his secretary having been flattened out. So what? it would be hard to find anyone who heard the bells ringing at the start of the Olympic games (work number 1197 the lights going on and off). But this is all supported by such state art luminaries as Julian Bell and Stephen Deucher who commissioned the runners in the Tate Britain Duveen gallery, (Work number 850) so it's all right then. The fact that it is facile, irrelevant and meaningless drivel is never to be considered. Why don't these state art acolytes worry about the contempt in which their decadent gestures are held, by the populace who are paying for it without being asked?

Tim Adams in the Observer also promotes Creeds show at the Hayward. He writes well, explaining that few artists negotiate the thin line between the mindfully simple and the simpleminded as well as Creed. He remarks that you can't help feeling that you need a quite low bar of knowingness, a spotless mind of innocence, a Buddhist master’s understanding of joy to appreciate them fully. This is the point - it is art for the me me me generation who haven't seen much art or who have little life experience. Adams acknowledges Creed’s debt to Bruce Nauman who was doing it all in the 1960s. Nauman was an adult who dealt in alienation and nihilism, Creed is a adolescent who makes slight gestures.  In short the quality of Creed's jokes is like that of David Shrigley insignificant; It is interesting that Wittgenstein compared aesthetic problems to those of the joke. Our art has lost it's aesthetics, lost the visual experience and ended up as a no more than an effete empty joke.

Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times says that Creeds show is the pits. He is an even worse artist than as he said he was last time round in 2012. Mentioning Creed's music and his new album Mind trap he remarks that; that it's full of anger self loathing, hatred, pity, loneliness and all the bleak and true emotions his thoroughly derivative art seeks to hide. A very concise accurate summary of the artist.

This week 9.2. Januszczak is discussing traditional ‘old British sculptors’ Richard Deacon at the Tate and Bill Woodrow at the RA. He says that they slipped down the back of the sofa in the past 30 years after their hiatus in the 1980’s. Deacon is he says, an excellent sculptor made dull by the circumstances of the exhibition at Tate Britain. Woodrow on the other hand is conspicuously impressive, he went on producing socialist statements from discarded household goods. The second half of his show however is preachy and clunky according to Waldemar. 

Rachel Cook in the Observer is effusive, finding it difficult to describe the associations and references of Deacons sculpture.

Waldemar Januszczak has promoted his excellent series on Rococo which it has gone out on BBC2 and is available on Iplayer.

Hockney has gone back to LA but he is having a huge print exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.