A few days ago I wandered round an art gallery. I quite like art. I like looking at interesting things that interesting people have made for interesting reasons. Sadly, the art on display was ‘modern’ art.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of artists in this modern period who create very exciting things that are enjoyable to look at and think about and quite a lot of them don’t really look much like the thing they represent. I understand the idea of abstraction in art, but wandering around that gallery, it really struck me that there is a lot of utter wank about that shouldn’t be displayed in a skip outside a house that is being pulled down because it was the site of a spate of horrific killings let alone a gallery.
I’m not particularly sharp when it comes to the history of art but from I can remember from school, the last 100 odd years has seen artists move away from accurate depictions of people, landscapes, bowls of fruit, etc and in a direction that questions the definition of art and seeks to explore whether or not it is possible to create visual representations of not visual concepts such as emotions, thoughts and socio-political ideas and ideals. This is all fair and good but you’d have thought that after all this time, the artists would’ve come even a tiny bit close to fulfilling at least one of these aims, but apparently they haven’t because art galleries are chock full of the same derivative, pseudo-intellectual posturings that only serve the purpose of convincing the artists themselves that they’re so much cleverer than everyone else because they’ve worked out how to spray paint a lump of wood green, hammer a couple of rusty bent nails into it and give it some sort of pretentious bullshit name like ‘love after midnight enema on Tuscan beach sky fairy’ or ‘wood and nails part 407.1b’
In the blurb accompanying one such artists work, he bragged about how he’d discovered holes and subsequently found a variety of materials to drill holes into and then mount on to Walls in galleries. Now excuse me for sounding a little like a philistine but I do find it difficult to take seriously the work of someone who happily states that in his early 30’s he discovered ‘holes’ as if they didn’t exist before he found out about them- as if he was some intrepid explorer in some undiscovered nook of he world who just happened to stumble upon the concept of something having a bit missing from the middle of it. He then proceeds to create about a hundred different variations on the same theme and then expects everyone else (who probably discovered the concept of holes whilst being pushed out of their mothers one on the day they were born) to be so very impressed by it.
I get that maybe he thinks that he’s being insightful and maybe a bit of wood spray painted green that’s been drilled a bit might, after a period of introspection, cause someone who looks at it to gain some useful insight into their own life but why be so brain-fuckingly full of yourself to proclaim that you discovered holes. I’m sure there are less ostentatious was of saying the same thing so why express yourself like the worst type of egotistical twat?
The other thing that bugged me about his work is that he honestly believed that he had stumbled upon the aesthetics of decay and entropy- the idea that imperfect used or damaged items can have a real sense of beauty that shiny fresh new things don’t. He might think he’s being original but zen Buddhism and in fact the Japanese in general (a whole nation of people, not just moron with too much free time on his hands) have been waxing lyrical about the concept of wabi sabi- the art of impermanence- for at least a couple of hundred years and they apply it to poetry, interior design, garden design, pottery, paintings, sculpture and loads of other artistic endeavours not just bits of badly painted wood with holes in.
Modern artists think they are so radical and anti-mainstream because they make their art out of any old crap lying around and it’s abstract and doesn’t look like the thing it’s supposed to represent but every day gallery is full of it so it’s really just the norm nowadays. Really, the people who go against the grain and are producing things that stand out are the old couple sitting on the hill painting the landscape with watercolours not caring one iota what everyone else thinks of their work. They paint for themselves and create what they see how they want to see it and don’t care if it never gets displayed in a gallery. In a time when people nail baked bean tin labels to driftwood, someone who tries to capture reality as how it strikes our eyeballs is the rebel who kicks against the pricks. Ironically, any of the old classic masters would nowadays be considered anti-mainstream and uncool and much more on a par with what Duchamp tried to do with his fountain. And because they spent so long trying to perfect the art of actually painting something so it looked identical to reality, they were better technically as artists too.
Fuck all modern artists! Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and the other ninja turtle artists are the people we should be looking too if we want to learn something from art. Art needs a new renaissance or at the very least should try to work out a way of pulling its head out of its own stinking hole so it can have a look around and see what the world is like.