Whispers

Whispers
Andre Wallace

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mega Hubris at Venice Biennale

So over at the Venice Biennale the usual suspect has shown the results of the influence of the hubristic talent that goes by the name of Jeff Koons. Ten years in the making but not made by the usual suspect we have the mega promotion of a truly truly gargantuan effort. Belief is everything, we are lectured to by himself. It amuses to reflect upon the influence of Catholic churches doctrines upon YBA art via reprobate Michael Craig Martin whose oak tree riffed the catholic mass. Now we have the usual suspect telling us that it is all down to divine self belief. Only this serves to point up the real weakness of the kitsch whose meaning and content is rooted in celebrity culture rather than in any original aspects of real world. One effort is so completely lacking in aesthetic awareness it seems that image 9 here is taking undue liberties with our little knowledge of barbie. This playing with content happens throughout the show and achieves nothing of any import.

Nevertheless, no-one has ever made such a gargantuan effort to retrieve their artistic reputation. It remains to be seen whether it will work? Even the blessed Sooke is less than impressed with this show in the Telegraph:

"At first, I was willing to suspend my disbelief, and play along with the whole farrago: after all, there’s something so gloriously demented about The Warrior and the Bear, so exultantly absurd, that my jaw hit the polished-concrete floor. Its aesthetic channels Jeff Koons circa 1988 (indeed, references abound to Koons’s infamous Banality sculptures), but amped up and bejewelled, if such a thing is possible. I grinned, and thought: well, at least Hirst has been having a blast, over the past decade, preparing for this show."

On a lesser note the RSPCA have accused Hirst of destroying too many lives in the pursuit of his art.

The Financial Times gets it exactly right with the concluding commentary at:
https://www.ft.com/content/4df6e2ba-1ae3-11e7-a266-12672483791a

The Saatchi gallery is trying to convince us that selfies are art, but they are not even close -unless they are staid artist's self portraits. The boring truth is that selfies are a mirror to the faux celebrity culture we inhabit where everyone is a 15 minutes facebook aspiring star of self interest, but it's usually self absorption of no real interest except to the perpetrator. Phone cameras have a lot to answer for.

On a sounder note Richard Long is exhibiting at Houghton Hall.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cerith Wyn Evans - Tate Britain.

Today's Guardian contains hype from Adrian Searle concerning Tate Britain's show of neon lights from one Cerith Wyn Williams. Neon is in danger of being done to death by repetition. The work entitled "forms in space - by light" (how original is that one?) is "to be experienced as a journey, or a piece of music." Unfortunately it's content, like that of Marc Quinn at the Sir John Soanes Museum in Lincoln Inn fields points up everything that is wrong with State contemporary art today. The content of both efforts is misbegotten imitative bunk. Let's analyse the Tate Britain exhibition which is premised upon scratches from our old friend Duchamp's Large glass. So bereft of inspiration is Evans he has directly lifted the geometrical signs from the bottom of Duchamp's effort and is re-quoting them as mobiles in neon. Why? one is forced to ask, how is this significant, except as an exercise is copying something that had no real value in the first conception. But the artist has form and specialises in using poetry and damned words that cannot convey anything like the wonderful visual complexity of the visual world. It is faux intellectual pretence - all of it. Searle, asserts that neon is just a drawing tool - only it is not, it has no powers of expression, no subtlety and no personality, - none whatsoever just loud lights.

Which brings us to the other artist with some form. It is also second hand Duchamp, Quinn has merely cast a woman's body from life and added several of his own limbs. in short, as with Evans he has added nothing personal to the actual forms by constructing or modelling them himself, a task he doubtless would see as a complete waste of time. One could ask where the art lies in this presentation of life casts but frankly one is heartily sick of this post, post, post Duchamp strategy as an excuse for art. One would have much preferred to see the actual woman whose body was cast from, infinitely more interesting than plaster casts. This was something every sculpture student did in the 1960's just for fun, only it risks burning your model as the setting plaster builds up great heat, so please don't try it at home.  Quinn used surgical alginate which dentists and surgeons use, bit pricy for art students that! But Jonathon Jones really shouldn't bother with TV presentation, it is not his forte and merely points up a vacuous commentary.

Why would anyone think that this is art? What is it with the Guardian that they will invariably support questionable art?

Is culture now only for public school pupils? Arts faculties all gone and vanished from state schools, no more ordinary people learning visual arts, drama or music, just securing it for public school products with their blinkered and privileged view of the world and their inability to understand or empathise with those they see as the lower orders. We are fast going to hell in a bucket - but then the sixties was only about establishment guilt for winning WW2 was it not? Welcome to the new thirties and stand by for WW3 which none of us will survive. That is realistic is it not? The symptoms are all there to observe in our culture.

Hockney at the Tate

The news this week is that the number of UK students studying degree level art has declined significantly this past year. This in essence is probably a very good thing, there are far too many badly trained artists around as it is and a reduction in the numbers produced may result in better educated artists but don't hold your breath anytime soon.

Meanwhile the David Hockney exhibition is causing reams to be written and televised. Most of it plainly sycophantic but the one thing that has emerged from the publicity is the shallowness of the art. Even when he is playing with sophisticated visual ideas he manages to be superficial, maybe that has always been the pure visual charm of his work? Yet the work has not aged well, and his draughtsmanship was infinitely better in the 1960s than it is now. Hockney has not improved with age, he has just got louder and coarser in his imagery and colour.

Also Howard Hodgkin has sadly died at the age of 84 years, the empirically educated post war generation is diminishing, and nothing comes forth to replace them

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Years Honours list

The press has been fulsome in it's praise of John Berger who died recently. He was a child of his age and reading through some of the texts that have been republished one can only wonder at what a knowledge restricted age it was as compared to today's instant Google access culture. That said of course, knowledge that really matters in a post Trump age is being very rapidly monetised, to the extent that a lunchtime news item on the state of the economy with Martha Kearney included some pipsqueak sounding off about how we are successfully monetising knowledge for sale in China.
Waldemar Januszczak produces a really thoughtful piece of hostile commentary in the Sunday Times of 8th January. It contained several really apposite truths about the misbegotten status of words in contemporary art. The one aspect of Berger that stuck in one's craw was his incessant promotion of Marxism, not so much a way of seeing as yet another way of attitudinising art as issues. The older one gets the more one distrusts other peoples's feelings when talking about art.

Which brings us to the value judgements in the New Years Honours list. If this list does one thing it illustrates very clearly how state art is all the art that we are offered and we deserve so much more and so much better than this list of artists.

New Years Honour’s List Services To The Arts 2017

Chris Ofili CBE services to the arts
Ofilli has been a Tate gallery trustee and member of their collection committee - the Tate owns 19 of his decorative colourful design pieces. His work was bought by the Tate whilst he was a trustee in direct contravention of the charities guidelines.

Patrick Brill (Bob & Roberta Smith) OBE services to the art
This designer, whose colourful lettering is not out of place in a primary school and whose loud utterances on art education have done some harm. 

Ryan Gander OBE services to the art
Mildly diverting Conceptual artist of severely limited interest also Lisson gallery stable

Don McCullin For Services To Photography KBE
Arguably the best photographer the UK has produced.

David Adjaye, lead architect of the Smithsonian’s new museum of African 
American History in Washington, DC, has been granted a KBE.
Doing his jobsworth!

Rosemary Greenlees Executive Director Crafts Council OBE
She has done a lot of real good for promotion of the world of crafts

Jennifer Waldman Director Of Imperial War Museum CBE
Again a good sound choice.

Nicholas Logsdail Founder/ Director Lisson Gallery OBE
Richard Deacon, julian Opie and Bill Woodrow have all been Tate trustees represented by the Lisson. Lisson represents 50 artists, 30 of whom have a total of 348 artworks in the Tate's collection. Logsdail is one of the key eminence gris of UK State contemporary art, surprising when you consider the fact that 98% of the art that he has sold over the years has been, devoid of engaging aesthetic and artistic meaning. Usually abstract it is just the usual suspects doing the usual things, - why he even represents the diminutive Chinese dissident.


Sunday, January 08, 2017

The best art of 2016

2016 was in many ways a terrible year and it has gone out with the deaths of several much loved celebrities. Be that as it may the Press art critics are shouting about the best shows of the year, yes, it's that time of the year again. As is usual their choices tell us more about the publications value system and priorities than about the art itself.
So for your delectation there are these links to stuff seen as the best, which is often anything but: