Friday, October 15, 2010

Please don't actually use paint!

I went on a gallery dash last week, excited by my release from the necessity of being in my studio by the fact that I may actually have finished my paintings for Goulburn Regional Gallery!!! However, I was so disappointed with what was on offer, I had to ring a friend and have an early evening drink to bemoan the state of painting in Sydney. And I can only just bear revisiting the disappointment by writing about it now, a week later.
Have you noticed how much of the current work being lauded as "the new big thing" actually is boring as batsh*t and shies away from using paint to the point that you'd think there was a world shortage of mediums and pigment?
Excepting the wonderful show by John R Walker at Utopia Art Gallery (actually, now that I think of it, his paint was uncharacteristically thin, too) every show I went to was exhibiting repetitive, -and I mean the same image actually repeated- flat, with poorly considered colour or the same tube colours slightly mixed. In one set of paintings in an exhibition, the entry painting promised a good, painterly show - until rounding a corner and I saw every other painting in the gallery,except for one, was the same image, different scale, of a Chinese mountain with clouds at the peak and light shining through, using Raw Umber, Cerulean, white and perhaps, Van Dyke Brown. And after reading the gallery spiel, I learnt that these paintings "flowed from his Newcastle studio in a short space of time", in anticipation of his trip to China". Do tell!! I can only assume the mountain itself must have been copied, as it appeared to have been, from a Chinese ink painting (since he'd not actually been to China at this stage).
And, sad to say, this was the best of the rest of the offerings I saw on the day, because at least I could admire his brushwork (even if it was the exact same wrist wriggle = rock surface in every painting). One of the worst exhibitions saw every painting of two rocks parted with sky between (think Stanley Chasm) in flat, dirty brown with darker outlines, and sky blue paint. The amount of sky included in the picture varied between paintings. That's it.I kid you not!
Another had the same, large photographic image (itself quite beautiful) repeated three times and displayed together, with the (unknown) photographer's marker notes in the margins regarding how she would change it. Clever!
So...have you noticed this trend towards boredom? Is it the new post-post modernist intellectual stand - a comment on lack of real choice in our consumer society?? A test on our level of discernment and detail mindedness?? A sad example of Art today??Or am I just being an old modernist...
What do you think??


  1. Absolutely!

  2. Thanks James. I read your blog- great writing and very beautiful, heartfelt and thought provoking in content. I love your equation of art and poetry, and totally agree that we need more of the latter in art. I, too, love a painting for its effect on me, rather than for its clever idea. Once the idea has been processed, it loses its impact, but a really poetic painting may be experienced time and time again.



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