Whispers

Whispers
Andre Wallace

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Obituary David Prentice RIP.

Obituary - David Prentice.

Sadly David Prentice has died at the age of 77 years. He will go down in art history as one of the most important landscape painters that the UK has produced. He started out as a hard edge abstract painter but he abandoned abstraction as a distraction and returned to working from his empirical visual roots with landscape. A very brave thing to do in the current climate of State art. His paintings of the Malvern Hills will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come, long after ACE has gone.

Speaking of which there is this news that the Usual Suspect is to open a London art space next spring which has a ring of irony about it insofar as it is questionable whether what he produces is in fact art and not commodity kitsch. Thats for you to decide?

This weeks Press also brings us news of the latest depressing east-end visual content from Gilbert and George at White Cube. Zoe Pilger is of course singularly impressed by all this but she needs to get out more! Tiresome, technically brilliant computer generated mirror images and photoshopping but spiritually dead and wrong headed, they seem to be lost in their own self imposed wilderness of totally inhumane lost causes. Pilger argues that this is their best work yet but the Independent hasn't got any art critic? It isn't anything of the sort, it's beginning to look very tired and emotional both in formal terms and and it's self centred navel gazing content. An altogether depressing sledge hammer to crack a small nut. Content alone doesn't make it art, vague unquestioning illusory assumptions about what art is or isn't doesn't make it art, Hedge fund Collectors doesn't make it art. What makes it art is the depth of the work's aesthetic dimension, and only you can judge that for yourself. I cannot ever recall having seen a hand drawn image by either of them, must google that?

Down in deepest darkest Somerset a new gallery has been opened by one of the big guns of the Art World, Hauser and Wirth - look forward to visiting it. Last week was very surprised to come across etchings for sale by Freud, Auerbach and Hockney in Budleigh Salterton of all the out of the way places on the planet?

Always enjoy the BP Portrait award show at the National Portrait gallery and was bemused to find BP sponsorship has created much controversy, due no doubt to the dreadful incident off the south coast of America. However that doesn't affect the sheer quality of the art on offer even if it seems to be the same artists and genres every year.

Lastly
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

What is art? and what is not art? Part 2



Reading a pre-release copy of an excellent book by Michelle Khami entitled "Who told you that's art" which is to be published in September. This is the question everyone in the art-world avoids like the plague, as well they might. The book is a very thought provoking study of how certain assumptions about contemporary culture are the result of some very dubious pecuniary interests rather than any rational aesthetic philosophy or cogent art theory.

 When you are in the position to buy huge amounts of contemporary art with impunity you have a vested interest in promoting the kinds of product you find most profitable, it matters not that it is pure useless kitsch and not even remotely fine art or has no claims to any pretence to aesthetic quality whatsoever. First, you muddy the water by convincing gullible dumb artists that any old crap is art, (which is the easy part,) then you can manipulate the media to promote the lies and persuade simple minded artists trained even at the exalted Royal College of Art to mouth the inane platitude "I say its art because I'm an artist!" All of which is completely unverifiable untruth.

Astute art criticism has always been around, Robert Hughes was and is even now hated by some artists for asking the right questions, as is Donald Kuspit. However it is now becoming a trend among those who actually know better to question the status quo, as in this study by Angus Kennedy called "Being cultured."

This is a study of why contemporary attempts at inclusion and social engineering are wrong headed and doomed.  The rot has gone deeply into art education where social issues are now more important than art: "This is art as a political tool. Angus Kennedy's major thesis is that art must be for art's own sake, not for attracting tourists, let alone regenerating inner cities or unifying disparate communities. Yet these days funding follows these kinds of political strategies and aims – ending up in Newcastle when it should have been instead directed towards Sussex Opera Houses and maybe buying classical statues for museums." 

So much of this ACE money goes down the drain, look at that appalling mess the so called legacy from the Olympics, - what is left of it now apart from a misbegotten mess of a tower that is neither fish nor fowl and certainly it is not art. 
You simply cannot fool all the people, all the time, eventually they will demand more than thin watery gruel. Unfortunately there are few left who can create anything better than watery gruel, certainly not the putative tired and emotional avant-garde! Those who can are marginalised by the stupidity and ignorance of media power.

Which brings us to some really dumb art with no formal artistic values. Waldemar Januszczak is raving in this weeks Sunday Times about this most fashionable artist; One Ryan Gander - A conceptual artist and as such he doesn't do any imagery. He plays with things and ideas for regular exhibitions at the Lisson stable (for it has always been the home of such stuff ). This truly is thin watery gruel of the most pretentious precocious and precious kind. Like the sculpture that consists of a blowing curtain. So what - hardly very meaningful, haven't we all got one when we open the window? This is art for the me, me, generation, self obsessed and self regarding and above all totally incapable of any sensibility or criticism. A self conscious video with government voiceover encouraging us to respect our children's imaginations is typical of the seeming preciousness here. Fighting battles that have been lost as a result of art world power brokers who have totally destroyed out visual culture, this is art for the easily pleased and the very easily entertained. As Waldemar remarks, cultural positioning is one of his subjects. Fiddling whilst Rome burns might be a more apt description. Adrian Searle just doesn't get it either!

One can only despair and contrast it with Picasso's Guernica - now there was an artist who used the real world to confront and argue with power brokers.



Thursday, July 03, 2014

Making colour at the National Gallery

Laura Cummings has a piece in this weeks Observer about a strange piece of curation at the National Gallery. Another piece of faux curation concerning nothing that has any relationship with anything else in the exhibition except its colour. Comparing apples with pears which are not the same thing. How much longer is this garbage thinking going to go on occuring?  We need to return to looking at real quality and real values, not trying for comparisons of anything with anything else in the hope that something will happen, but then when the lie that art is anything that Serota and Saatchi tells us it is, what else can one expect?
The National Gallery knows better - and note their new artist in residence is George Shaw who is a very good painter but whose claim to fame is his use of Airfix kit Humbrol commercial paint, and wonder if he will keep using this when surrounded by so many masterpieces in traditional oil paint?

Waldemar januszczak is concerned about the Human factor at the Hayward which he sees as very significant. He really is starting to get to it at last and he writes:  "After all those years of slo-mo conceptualisation, how refreshing it is to be addressed so directly in a language the body understands immediately, and has always understood" As in the visual image!

Barbara Kruger is still around - why, one has to ask, does she get so much exposure when what she does is at best poor advertising graphics and at worst inane meaningless drivel? This is the kind of art that has absolutely no excuse, one despairs at the wasted opportunities and the crap thinking that legitimises this wordy pretentious verbiage as so much more significant than painted images. Its just copy-type and no more.  Images are capable of so much more information than the trite, inept, limited banners exhibited here. Try this one for size, Kruger's work cannot stand the comparison can it? Perhaps it's time to start a stuckist campaign to bring back the image to art and abandon the useless weasel words? Laura Cummings in the 6th july Observer is not convinced either, she writes this telling remark which points up the lack of real aesthetic engagement: "You cannot ignore slogans 15 feet high but you can resist the empty clamour. The art forces itself upon you, every time – that's its graphic affront – but it doesn't always hold your mind."