Its not often I criticise another artists work, but I think on this occasion I’ll make an exception.
Last night I sat down to watch a film about someone who is hailed as one of the greatest living artists, the fact that I hadn’t heard of him was a surprise but then the world of art is a massive one, and there are lots of artists I don’t know much about. But I am always happy to learn.
The film was in German with English subtitles, and showed the not one, but two, assistants to the great artist who were carefully squeezingÂ paint through muslin cloths to get rid of all the lumps in it ready for the artist to use. They were also cataloguing his work for forthcoming exhibitions at the Tate Modern in London, as well as New York and Paris. The film went on to show the artist at the opening of his exhibition in Cologne, and his reticence at talking to his fans, as well as the adoration of the media.Â Ok, I was intrigued……. and even more so when the paintings that were being catalogued were being shown, because, and this was the massive surprise for me, there was not ONE of them that I liked. The pictures had no redeeming qualities for me, they didn’t have any subject matter that was appealing, they didn’t have a strong use of colour that I liked, they just seemed to be badly painted, and badly chosen subjects somehow.
So, what amÂ I missing I wondered….
And then, we were shown the abstracts, which I liked the best, not that they depicted anything in any way, they were just brightly coloured large canvas’s. The film then followed the artist creating his artwork. And, this is the best bit! – he painted TWO at the same time. Both large canvas’s – probably six feet square, and both hung within ten feet of each other in the white walled studio. And he started by daubing on large patches of colour – zinging yellow, bright blue, and a dull red, one painting, then the other. His next stage was to get a five foot length of clear acrylic with a handle running the length of it, smear paint along the whole of it and apply it to the canvas, pulling it down over the paint, and making smears in horizontal and vertical patterns. He worked on one canvas, and then on the other, creating the pictures at the same time. The interviewer asked him what was in his mind, and he replied that nothing was. At ANY one point you could say that the painting was finished, because it was no different at any one time, than the next, it was jsut brightly coloured smears of paint on the canvas. And as the pictures progressed they didn’t look any better, or worse, than they had before, since there was no point when you could say that it was done. There was no attempt at making a picture out of it by adding an urban skyline, or figures, or boats, or any recognisable image. And when the interviewer asked for more insight into his work, his replies were gobbledygook art talk, that even I don’t understand, and I’m an artist! And then the artist said that he felt uncomfortable with the camera watching, and stopped work. A bit later on another of the dullerÂ abstracts that I quite liked was painted over in white, using the smearing acyrlic strip again to make the marks.
My fella and I sat watching all of this, and he said quietly “I don’t get this” and I nodded, fascinated with the screen, and said ” You know what, neither do I!” And summed it up as *Emperors new clothes art* (otherwise known as Bull Shit Art). The way that I describe work that ANYONE can do, that seems to have no artistic ability, although it has technical ability that anyone can master. We switched it off at that point, since neither of us could stand watching it any more.
Today, looking on the Internet, I find thatÂ Gerhard Richter sells his artwork for millions of dollars, and think that the art world is a strange place when art that can be made on a conveyor basis gets such credibility when there are many starving artists out there with good artistic ability who don’t get a look in.
When I am painting a picture, and I do abstracts as well as realistic art, I HAVE to fully concentrate on that ONE painting, because that’s how a painting is created – by looking at the shapes, and the colours, and the tones, and the lines, and the focal point, and the message, and the emotion in that ONE image, and making valued decisions on it, and focusing on that one thing. I like to work on one picture at a time, because I put all my motivation and momentum into it. And I always say that no matter how much painting you put into a picture, it is only one tenth of the thought process that goes into it. And to illustrate,Â here is one to make the point – you can see the rest of my Fantasy Fannies abstracts in their own beautifulÂ Queynte Gallery here
To paint two pictures at the same time, is just pattern making, not picture making.