Andre Wallace

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

RA summer exhibition 2015

Little to discuss this week as contemporary art is in the summer doldrums. The RA summer exhibition has opened to critical acclaim though one wonders why, when it is largely the same old, same old, same old mixture of amateurism and useless state art. The courtyard has been filled with a pile of geodesic geometry that is quite meaningless shades of 60s Bucky Fuller and the rest is pretty much of the same well known genres. 
Alistair Smart writes in the Torygraph ; "The truth is, though, that, for all the attempts at modernisation, this is a Summer Exhibition like so many before it: a mix of the exciting and the execrable, your archetypal three-star show, a series of packed rooms that recall a high-end junk shop." 

......."if it truly wished to modernise, the Academy should consider the radical step of including half the number of exhibits: the Salon-style, pile-them-high, pack-them-tight approach just isn't suited to our era of ever-decreasing attention spans."

Despite the curation of Mr M Craig-Martin, one wonders exactly what Mr Smart means by modernise by exclusion, isn't it all about inclusion from Mrs Cutout to the PRA. Shurely shum mistake in a contemporary art context?? What would help would be to remove all the execrable stuff but that would mean "judging" it severely and we cannot have any of that that now, in our politically correct and mindless culture - can we now?

Note Richard Dorment is retiring from his job as art critic for the Torygraph and he looks back in amazement at his time there. he says this; " As for me personally I don’t by any means think I got all of it right. But I have many more regrets about the artists I failed to appreciate – Peter Doig is a good example – than the ones I now think didn’t deserve as much attention as I gave them, including quite a few of the Young British Artists who came to prominence in the Nineties."

Well there you go - he was sometimes quite wrong, as this blog has said many times! He shouldn't have listened to all that gallery guff he was handed and he now regrets the YBA's and all the attention that he gave to them. He will be missed though, but sadly for all the wrong reasons.

There is a Phillip Guston exhibition on at Timothy Taylor and Adrain Searle writes the fluff for it in the Gruniad. This does not make any literal sense:
The world itself is dumb enough. Guston was a painter of brute matter and even more squalid inclinations. He is a great corrective to so much fancy and flimsy tinkering in contemporary painting. He makes an artist like Anselm Kiefer look effete and mannered.

Guston didn’t dumb things down; he dumbed them up. You can’t escape how painted his world is, how nuanced and tragic and funny. Head and Bottle has a dreadful stillness." 

How on earth can you dumb something up? This is trite tripe about a cartoonist who used paint very, very, badly - no more, no less.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Karsten Holler

Karsten Holler has turned the Hayward Gallery into a funfair complete with spiral slides for the undemanding. Inside the gallery we have Large Fly agaric mushrooms that revolve when you push them around. At night you can sleep in a wandering bed. Not so much an art exhibition as a funfair of non-meaningful arty events and entertainment. When is this sort of non-art guff going to end?

Laura Cumming comments:   "And this a troubling aspect of Höller’s show. It turns you into an all-out consumer, as well as a reluctant participant in the artist’s own enterprise. So, for instance, there is a memory game where the cards show fairground attractions on both sides – with one side slightly blurry, so that the eyes have trouble focusing. You can’t help trying it out. The game isn’t too hard, and turns out to be the very definition of child’s play for a smart kid. But for an adult, it’s a case of aggravated boredom. One has the sense of rejecting it in irritation and, at the same time, of unwillingly becoming another piece of what Höller calls his “material” – namely, our response to his game." 
If you are undemanding enough to play and thereby take part in the sociological experiment for the so called artist, thereby providing his material to play with !

The Serpentine Sackler gallery is showing work by Duane Hanson. Wondered where he had got to since the sixties when he was very big. Depressingly he seems to have moved little in terms of form or content in the intervening years. What is curious is to closely compare his work with that of Ron Mueck who also works in this particular genre. The differences are interesting to speculate upon, and although slight there is an ugly expressiveness to Duane Hanson's work that isn't just down to technique, which is casting figures from life in fibre glass. Maybe Mueck uses softer plastic materials and thus achieves a softer effect?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Selected News for week beginning 7th June 2015

.Selected News for June 2015

Sotheby's London are selling the first version of Manet's barmaid at the Folies-Bergere on June 24th. 

We note that the full weight of the UK state art publicity machine has thrown itself behind Anish Kapoor because the French are insulted by the large rusting hulk he is showing in the gardens of Versailles. Always thought that the man was a conceptual artist? Here it seems is a representational object, but maybe that is just the publicity 
machine in overdrive. The latest news is that it has been extensively vandalised with spray paint, so who says art has no influence?

The Turner Prize-nominated conceptual artist Roger Hiorns plans to bury a decommissioned Boeing 737 under derelict land outside his hometown of Birmingham next summer. The conceptual work is designed to "amplify the contemporary anxiety which the object holds over us" and requires a £250,000 grant from Arts Council England.
The Birmingham-born artist, 39, has spent four years planning the jet burial and has earmarked a patch of industrial wasteland at Icknield Port Loop, a regeneration site, to stage this experience, which allows visitors to walk up and down the fuselage and sit in the seats.  Who is this £250,000 public funded project for? Surely not Art Lovers? Why cannot the lad find a private sponsor from the City?

Among the legions of artists that the state art regime promotes one can usually find one or two who are actually good. One such is Lynette-Yiadom-Boakye who is having her first London show at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park. Rachel Cooke writes:
" - there’s no doubting that her reputation is growing. Sought after by collectors, her portraits are in several public galleries, the Tate and the V&A among them, and now they are to fill the Serpentine." She is definitely one to watch and hopefully will fulfil her promise.

Interesting article from Colin Gleadell about the number of Lowry fakes that are floating around. He writes; "it’s not just Lowry but other popular artists like Mary Fedden and Alfred Wallis whose fakes are sold in smaller auctions. Buyers need to be careful, buy from experienced galleries and auction rooms, take advice from experts and, above all, always look for a watertight provenance. Sellers, especially smaller auctioneers, should also do their due diligence. This situation occurs all too often." A symptom, no doubt of the times!

The Daily Torygraph has come up with the ten best UK art exhibitions of the moment: Weak selection at best from quirky painter Peter Doig, Defining Beauty, painting paradise, to Eric Ravilious who is very popular.  Just compare the Ravilious with Agnes Martin or Karsten Holler and then argue that art progresses, as if?

Then there is this "artist" who proves that some people will do anything to attract attention. What has this activity got to do with self portraits? Does it have any meaning whatsoever?