Thursday, May 02, 2002

Visited the Royal Scottish Academy annual exhibition held this year in the McLellan Galleries, Glasgow.

Lots of sumptious paintings. As usual the standard of presentation, technique,craftsmanship, content is exceptionally high. True there were some paintings, and we are talking paintings andsculpture here - photoraphy and video is a "no no" as far as the Academy is concerned, which made you wonder what criteria was used for their selection.Still they were few and far bertween.

But I asked myself: is this the world of 2002? there was nothing I saw that could not have been painted 10,20- even 50 years ago...
On to Cafe Flicker (Glasgow Media Access Centre - where I showed my mini film: a spoof advert. It got a good reception. Lots of interesting films were shown . One had been made on a High 8 camera by 2 young men in 45 minutes about a psycho-analyst who fed his cocaine habit by giving unnecessary medication to his patients. Yes it had lots of technical things wrong with it but it was on the ball.
Which is more than I can say for the annual RSA exhibition.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Had a moan to Lys Hansen, artist and mentor, about the thinness of so much contemporary art and she said:
"It could be about to change. Read the New Stateman - 18 Feb."

"Do you mean the Ivan Massow article by the chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts? he got sacked for it."
"No, this is somebody else saying much the same thing."

I got a copy from Stirling library. First surprise - New Stateman is now much more readable. Its years since I used to subscribe to it. Maybe I will again. Or maybe I will just readit on-line. (

In the article Peter Watson says an awful lot of influential people in the Tate establishment had confided to him that they were appalled at this year's Turner Prize shenanigans and hope that it will never be repeated.

He said some changes are being considered to alter the rules: to make it biennial, to lift the age restriction and to remove the embargo on non-British artists.

If a gallery as influential as the Tate was to take the lead we may well see the current strangehold of conceptual art diminish in this country.
"Revamping the Turner Prize is the single most important initiative the Tate establishment could make to move us beyond bad aesthetic times. It won't change overnight, or all by itself, but it is a high-profile start," said Peter Watson, author of A Terrible Beauty: the people and ideas that shaped the modern mind ( Phoenix publisher).

He wonders how much longer it will take us all to realise how unambitious contemporary art has become, how unidimensional the aesthetic are and that we are faced with an intellectual and aesthetic dead end.
Am reminded again of an American art historian who said during a lecture at the School of ther Art Institute in Chicago , where I did a year as an Exchange Student, that as far as they were concerned "conceptual art has been packaged and put in the past."
If we are talking cutting-edge art work then she considered the next wave most likely to be immersive, work using the latest technological tools available, which allowed the viewer to become part of the art work.

And you can't bullshit your way around that lot.

As the American art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto said:
"We are living in bad aesthetic times."
And that needs to change.