Andre Wallace

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