Saturday, April 27, 2002

There's an awful lot that is pretentious and transitory in today's contemporayr art scene.

And I had a gutsful of it yesterday in Edinburgh : bits of an old book torn out and stuck on the wall with tape - Fruitmarket gallery - Young Scottish Contemporay Artists, - lightbulbs swinging like a giant pendulum - Collective hankering back to this year's Turner prize of light bulbs flashing on and off-and more, much more that it would be embarrassing to write about it all.
Yet critics do. They enthuse over these mind games because that is what they are, an,artistic version of crossword puzzles. : The contemporary artworld has been hijacked by academics.

Surely in three hours tramping through Edinburgh galleries I saw something I liked? Yes. The Ingleby gallery ( with its retrospective on Ian Hamilton Finlay- always have been a fan of his work and a new discovery for me of the work of sculptor Emily Young who works in stone.

The work has emotional and aesthetic appeal. It hits you in the gut. This is the real stuff. You don't need to read several hundred words of academic "insight" into what its all about. You feel it in your bones.

As art critic Richard Ingleby, ( for the Independent newspaper) who runs the gallery, says about her work putting it into its historical perspective:
"For all the associations that tie Emily Young's work into the history of 20th century British art there is a sense that her closest cousins are further back in an ancient past of Cycladic figures and Easter Island totems. The history of sculpture itself is 30,000 years old and the stones that Emily Young uses were formed in nature many millions of years before that, so what's a few thousand years here or there in the making.

This is the wider context: it's a sobering thought and one which, like her best work can't but inspire humility."

Honesty. That's what I find missing in so much of the pretentious work that passes for contemporary art today. Only when you come across the work of someone like Emily Young do you realise that is what is missing from so much work today.
It's being clever for the sake of being clever. Fine. There is a place for that
But it has nothing to do with the human spirit.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Change your routine. That was the advise from my favourite pop pyschologist who writes a weekly column in the Financial Times.
(Normally I read The Guardian but on Saturdays I like the FT )
He says: "There's a simple psychological principle that says if we do things differently, it helps us think differenlty, and alternative thinking easily leads to innovative action."
So I skipped the Saturday morning housework and went in to Glasgow to see the series of Bruno Bozzetto animation films on at the Glasgow Film Theatre, part of their Italian film Festival.

Was I glad? You bet. Did the house suffer? Nope. The dust will be there in a weeks time: Bozzetto was a one-off showing of Italy's most famous and prolific animator's work.

Talking of thinking differently I was reminded of Charles Handy's words that if something worked in the past it is unlikely to work in the future . "We must not let our past, however glorious, get in the way of our future". He was talking about the changing worlds of organisations and business. The Church of Scotland announced yesterday that research shows that unless something is done the current decline in its congregations will see it defunct in 50 years time.

Popped into our local art gallery-Fotheringham, in Bridge-of-Allan- www.bridgeofallan.comyesterday where a private viewing of Jonathan Hood's work was taking place. What struck me was that nearly everybody standing there sipping wine was grey-haired. Had not seen so many old people in one room for a long time.
Does this say something about the people who buy traditional oil paintings?