Andre Wallace

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More artists to note 2.

More superb selected artists whose work is of real value, and repays a second or third visit - images largely speak for themselves, as indeed they should.

James Lynch
David Inshaw
Mick Rooney
Annie Ovendon
Paul Emsley
Jeanette Barnes
Louise Balaam

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blame Culture!

Conversation recently over heard during a break in an advanced life drawing class.
Retired surgeon; " So you three young ladies are all doing a fine art degree?"
girl 1; " Yes all of us, though we aren't in the same tutor groups."
Ret Surgeon; " What in god's name are you doing in this class if you are studying art full time at university?"
girl 2; " We are here to learn how to draw."
Ret Surgeon; "What? you mean to say that you don't get any drawing teaching on your course?"
girl 1; "Oh no, they teach us how to express ourselves, explore issues and experiment with media" "along with discussing exotic chemicals that is!"
Ret Surgeon; "But you can't do those things without being able to draw!"
girl 1; No! not true! they say we don't need to be able to draw, there isn't time to bother with it".
Ret Surgeon; " So you come here in your own time!"
Girl 2 and 1 "Oh yes, we can't get drawing lessons anywhere else".

Reflecting upon the fact that UCAS has reported that fine art degree applications are down by 29% this year (nearly a third) one has to ask why? There is a clue in the above conversation, students are not idiots, none of them are willing to put out £9,000 a year in fees to support a worthless degree with no actual content and poor teaching. This doesn't just apply to the mainstream universities, the situation is just as dire at the most prestigious schools. It is not for lack of reasons that fine art students are the most dissatisfied students in the entire university system.

This conversation, which I had the misfortune to overhear in early December brought to mind this recent diatribe in support of the 2011 Turner prize - "Yawn".
The winner, the ernest Boyce suggested, that art education is going through the wringer and it is "important" to acknowledge the value of teachers.
This obviously doesn't touch the world of our Guardian reporter Chris Sharratt the self appointed appologist for state art, who blames the cuts. Matthew Collings, he says, commented that the appreciation of contemporary art demands a certain amount of education. A priceless gem from a man who has changed his art opinions like a weathercock over the past twenty years. Sharratt then goes on to explain that those visitors to the Turner prize rush straight through the exhibition with sour comments. (Echoeing exactly the thoughts of Charles Saatchi, below)

He then comes up with these gems:
"Boyce's art is rich in historical references to modernist design and architecture and understanding this adds an extra dimension to it. But that doesn't mean you have to know about Joel and Jan Martel's concrete trees or Jean Prouvé's library desk to get something out of viewing his work. It is cleverer and more beautiful than that."
No kidding!
"You do, however, need to learn to look more slowly, to recognise that, with so much contemporary art, good things really can come to those who wait. Then you can dismiss headlines such as Who could mistake this rubbish bin for art? for the uneducated, self-inflicted ignorance they are. Only when we appreciate the worth in learning, can we really recognise the value of teachers."

Perhaps it doesn't occur to this young reporter that there are thousands of us out there in the wider world, deeply committed and well informed artists (who in a recent survey voted David Hockney as the most influencial contemporary artist) who are sick to the back teeth of the kind of solipsistic, self regarding, endless empty navel gazing that Boyce's work repeats. We have seen this kind of work a thousand times, frequently done far better and with more meaningful content and conviction. Sadly however, that would'nt make good Guardian copy, now would it? We do have to keep papering over the cracks don't we? Time was when someone in the culture would actually get in there and start asking serious questions about the content of fine art courses but we live in degenerate times, besides we cannot be bothered.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Artists of quality and note 1.

Regularly posted links to some of those thousands of artists who are under appreciated by the insiders of the solipsistic contemporary art world.

They will be selected for the originality of the their personal vision and the depth of meaning in their images. Artists that is, of some value, whose work repays a second or third visit and largely speaks for itself.

Charlotte Sorapure
Eric Rimmington
David Poole
Rebecca Cains
Anne Desmet
Andrew George
David Carpanini

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Charles Saatchi's recent criticism of the contemporary art world.

As one who has monitored the effects that Charles Saatchi has had upon the contemporary art market I was amused to read this peice of publicity which suggests that he is more than peeved that some oligarches have buying power but no artistic taste. It's intesting that his criticism reflects exactly the influence that he himself has been accused of exerting on the art market for some considerable time. His criticism of the large swathe of middle class may be accurate in fact but has his own gallery publicity had no influence upon their taste?

At the end of this Guardian piece Jonathon Jones, suggests that the art world needs an honest critic.

Laughable in fact and risible in truth; What are Brian Sewell, Arthur Danto, David Lee, Roger Scruton, Donald Kuspit, Denis Dutton and Arthur Hughes himself, if not honest art critics, who have been at some pains to document the death of art and the rise of kitsch in the contemporary art world during the past few years.

The Guardian article
The telegraph article
Sydney Morning Herald

Why criticise?

There is probably no other field of media communication as full of downright distortion and wordy untruths as that of contemporary art criticism and art promotion. The Jackdaw rightly runs a column of truth called art-bollocks.

The young assume naturally that everything that went before them in time was intellectually and visually inferior to that which is produced by contemporary artists and to what is published in the current media. This is of course, arrogant and ill-informed nonsense born of both lack of knowledge and inexperience. We see it constantly in revisionist historical film making and documentary reportage. When one has lived through the events and the times depicted, it is hard not to resent the distorting lens that current media concerns create. Admen is about as far from the world of a 1960's advertising agency as it is possible to get and still wear the same clothes. It has no awareness of the trendy and hip self consciousness and atmosphere that prevailed at the time. Truth tends to take the back seat in art criticism, art promotion and particularly in film depiction, but then it always did so. The present has it's own reasons to contaminate and soil the way that the past is perceived. Contemporary art has critics, most of them have to be careful, but not all of them do a good job. Some are so tied up in their political and social prejudices they are effectively blind.  The art world is not noted for it's fine and upstanding integrity (to put it mildly, caveat emptor is the rule). Many newspapers no longer employ professional art critics, and they give the job to a jobbing reporter whose publicity and hyperbole is often garbage in the paid interests of some dealer or promotor. Some critics such as the redoubtable Robert Hughes, David Lee, Roger Scruton, Donald Kuspit, Arthur Danto, Waldemar Janusczcak or Brian Sewell are persons who have had a lifetime of art experience and have become disillusioned with the decadent theoretical mess that 20th century visual art has degenerated into. The main culprit was undoubtedly Marcel Duchamp, whose tasteless urinal joke (which wasn't actually his own idea) effectively legitimised an avalanche of complete and utter crap posing as art. A little known fact is that it was the painter George Bellows who rightly rejected the urinal. That said when confronted with a contemporary artwork or artist start from first principles, define your own terms and ask this leading question: Who is telling me this is an artwork. Knowing that quickly sorts out the trash from the good stuff, and using your gut instinct of course.

Today's visual art culture is in most respects very inferior to that of the 20th century, particularly in depth of meaning and visual critical writing. There has been a significant flight from the visual image in favour of verbiage and lies.  Art is seen through the eyes, and this is often forgotten, it isn't just felt or read through the intellect. It involves the extremely sophisticated and complex non verbal process of seeing and interpreting. In particular the abandonment of excellence in the spurious pursuit of an dim-witted, non-existent equality has meant that huge numbers of successful artists whose work doesn't fit the prevailing ACE, media and State conceptual art tyranny are very effectively ignored.  That said, this blog is a sincere attempt to expose to the light of day some of the more ludicrous media hype concerning contemporary art from the point of view of an informed insider. The truth can be very, very slippery and everyone in the game is out to confuse and distort.  Always rely on your own aesthetic judgement, if the work speaks to you well and good, if not walk away there are always others who will want to believe what they are told.