Andre Wallace

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Truly terrible painting

So this week the press has numerous reviews of the Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern. Laura Cumming, calls him America's Leonardo which is a bit much. One thing that emerges from the show is the bleak contrast between Hirst's empty presentation of pickled animals and the transformative effect of using that famous stuffed goat with tyre even though it's tacit meaning still eludes us fifty years on.
She writes:  "This show opens up like the codex of his mind, constantly churning up new ideas, combinations, intuitive visions; celebrating our physical reality. Time may pass – clocks tick, buildings collapse, calendar pages count down in his art; there is even an x-ray of his own body in a late collage. But paint glues it all back together, like a novelist’s narrative. What is it like to be here, Rauschenberg asks, first to last, what is it like to be here and alive? " Except that the images are silk screen prints for the most part and not painting, - there was a time when every art student copied this technique and every school kid drew with solvents.

Meanwhile over at the Saatchi Gallery we have a show called Painters Painters. Never was a show more inappropriately named for what we have here is some of the most execrable attempts to paint an image it would be possible to find. We learn that that the artist, Michael Moloney is no less than 55yrs old. How on earth did he get to that age without realising that what he does isn't worth doing? No! How? How?
It's not just that his efforts wouldn't attain a GCSE grade, it's the fact that he still believes there is milage in truly dire incompetent painting which any amateur adult would be thoroughly ashamed of. But he's not the only one, the only painter here of any skill or worth is David Sale, and he has been around since the ark. Post truth generation Painters painters! what we have here isn't painting, it's pure dribble. As Waldemar Januszczak remarks, Saatchi has always had a weakness for very bad painting, as if that were an excuse for exhibiting pathetic efforts such as these. He writes; " - practitioners of bad painting kid themselves that by releasing whatever dumb nonsense comes into their heads, they are being revolutionary and free. What they are actually being is inept." Incompetently mocking the whole notion of art would be more accurate. Totally tiresome and passé.

As a contrast he says that the New contemporaries exhibition is honest by comparison to the Saatchi efforts, and all the painters are better, truer and more authentic than the pretentious Painters, painters. Purely because they are still trying to paint, one supposes?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Click bait!

The US presidential election has pointed up the problem of fake news, propagated on the Net by political interests whose objective is to gain and hold power:
"It’s an unfortunate reality that news reporting is often at odds with the interest trifecta of politics, profits, and public opinion.

What’s changed is the internet, which has altered the scale of the fake news problem, taking it to another level. While fake news might have been less visible in the past, it has always been with us. Where we might find Twitter bots today, we’ll find AI-powered virtual assistants and ubiquitous natural language interfaces (ie, Alexa, Siri, and Google Home) tomorrow."

The use of the internet by to enforce a specific world view is objectionable, because the truth becomes a populist sound bite created to achieve an objective. As Carole Cadwalladr puts it:  "And we have to wake up to what is happening right now on the laptop on our desk, the phone in our pocket, the tablet in our children’s bedrooms. This is our choice: do something. Or accept the truth according to Google. That six million didn’t die. That the Holocaust never happened. That we didn’t care enough to remember."

This blog, exists to dig out the truth free from articles of faith derived from the art world, which is an arcane, hermetic, marketing world. Rather like religious faith if you do not share the belief values of State Art and higher non-art education, you are perfectly entitled to dissent as often the man on the Clapham omnibus does. Works of art that are not art are kitsch and promoted as such they are a waste of valuable time, lost on the young who have been too poorly educated and have little or no art judgement or discrimination apart from the false ephemeral values of today's news. This is beginning to change though, with age comes wisdom and discrimination and the freedom to say it stinks to high heaven, it doesn't enhance life values as art should do. There are of course exceptions, as not all contemporary art stinks, even when most of the dross pile does. Now more than ever, when promoted world views are at the service of power, it is essential to look for the truth and not to accept the lies. Test this by opening Google images and looking at what it finds for avant garde art. Ask yourself what judgements have the Google algorithm applied.

Pleasingly Helen Marten has criticised the extraordinary privilege of the State art world in her Turner speech acceptance quoting a series of right on urban values. In this week's 11th Dec Sunday Press Waldemar Januszczak considers her deconstruction:  "There is definitely something timid about them, as there always is with deconstruction. Itsy-bitsy and intriguing is always less of a risk than coherent and whole."  
Amen to that, but they do add up to new and intriguing meanings!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Helen Marten - 4th december

So this week we find that Helen Marten has won the Turner Prize, having only just shared out her winnings from the Hepworth Sculpture Prize, which she won three weeks ago. For once, she is an interesting and right on traditional sculptor of some origonality. It seems that the zeitgeist is changing and some real values are now being promoted along with some excellence.
What Marten has managed to do is very interesting, she seems to have broken the log jam created by the Duchamp inspired kitsch of the YBAs by returning to real sculptural values but using post modern deconstruction. What this means is that by selecting and juxtaposing numerous object's meanings she is creating a new type of traditional sculpture of some value. She is moving on from where Carl Plackman left off, creating new values from the old and the fact that she is receiving such acclamation, as two recent major prizes proves, that traditional sculpture is not completely dead. Lets hope she goes from strength to strength, as she is definitely a sculptor to keep track of and she shows great promise. She said this at the award ceremony:

“Everyone in this room is operating in this world that is so fucking privileged,” 

 “We’re afforded so much optimism and education and time to do these things, and this is not the global consensus.”

No, this is too true, just ask the people trapped in Aleppo.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Reprieve for A Level art history.

Today 2nd December brings the pleasing news that A level art history has been saved from the scrapheap. As Sally Weale writes in the Guardian, the government has caved in due to the serried ranks of the great and the good exerting pressure. Presumably public school great and good for they are the only source of teaching it now. However the new Art history has been offered to Pearsons as a nice little earner for teachers to take up next September - don't all rush now. Pity that they have not seen fit to bring back Archeology but Sir Tony Robinson is confident that they will overcome the obstacles to this.
One amusing aside from this article is the comments from Jeremy Deller "artist" as he said this : "It’s given me a lot. I didn’t do art at school. We had an art department but I didn’t study art. This was my opportunity to get as close to art as possible without actually making it." 
That maybe explains why his conceptual artwork can only use second hand images with extensive verbal support to elicit their purported meaning. As opposed the real actual practise of art making which he would have been taught be his art department at Dulwich College - where the meaning is embedded in actually creating the image and doesn't require a verbal translation from the curator's wall label!

Arts and urban redevelopment

Our local authority is redeveloping an area beside the local river, so the local press has the usual promotion for involving the arts as a way of interesting people in the site and the cafes. This is the usual wrong headed hype from those who expect public art to perform like monkeys.
It has to be said that the promotion of the arts is not a secure environmental cure all for derelict areas. In 2010, 5.7 million pounds was spent on the Cultural Olympics by Arts Council England and we have not one single item of art to show for what was a scandalous waste of other people's funds. A number of very expensive white elephants from the Public in West Bromwich to the latest causality Walsall's New Art gallery have fallen foul of low support and take up after their cash strapped councils have failed to sustain what will always be a minority interest. The powers that be who want their names attached to new art galleries/centres don't care a damn about the often huge ongoing costs of running and staffing these pure status symbols. This has occurred repeatedly after initial investments of millions, and the quality of the art on offer is absolutely no guarantee of the buildings long term success. Often the assumed revival of a region fails to materialise, despite the quality art input, because those who inject the art have little or no knowledge of what art is and their objectives are purely utilitarian or pecuniary. Perhaps before the local council decides to waste possible millions of pounds of tax payers or sponsors money, they would be well advised to visit the Turner Contemporary in Margate and secure some understanding of why that particular gallery has been a commercial success when others have failed dismally.

As Tate curator Andrew Brighton has said: " the idea that people without art are lesser or inferior beings is a ridiculous assumption, a piece of moral vanity akin to a religious fanatics belief that only those of their faith are capable of real virtue. " 
For many, the issues which preoccupy the post modern urban art poseur; multiculturalism, egalitarianism, feminism, environmentalism and the other right on attitudes do not preoccupy them, they simply don't have the time or interest. There are millions of people who live happy and fulfilled lives without any engagement with the arts. The arts cannot guarantee anything, least of all tourists, they are far too ephemeral and transitory.