Sunday, 16 January 2011
I HAVE been thinking about art lately. Both my sisters paint. Well, I paint too - but whereas their media are oils and watercolour, mine are emulsion and gloss. They witter on about light and shadow and I mutter about match pots and matt vinyl
What is it that makes a good picture? You can look at the old masters and, whether you like them or not, recognise the artistic talent that has gone into producing them.
But, to me (and I freely admit to being a Philistine) much of today’s art looks like it’s been painted with a tablespoon and socket spanner with the artist’s eyes tight shut.
Even so, I can appreciate a good abstract painting, even it it’s more, ‘do the colours match my sofa?’ than ‘is it a stochastic snapshot sans lexical basis?’
(No, I don’t know what it means either. I typed ‘pretentious art bollocks’ into Google and that was what it came up with.)
I'm not one of those people who thinks art should look exactly like its subject. You may as well take a photograph. At the risk of sounding art bollocky myself, I like art to rouse some emotion in me - to make me think; to see more than what is in front of my eyes. I love the impressionists, some of the graffiti art, David Hockney and Zeng Fanzhi (that's his picture above).
Sister One sells a lot of her paintings but she’s never going to be hailed the next Picasso as you can actually see that when she paints a cockerel in a field, it looks like a cockerel in a field. Sister Two has only just taken up the paintbrush but already her boats look like boats.
Now, if both of them could paint their lovely pictures and then, oh I don’t know, vomit all over them and rub it in with a dead rat, then they’d be in with a fighting chance of making the family fortune. I must have a word.
And installation art - what's all that about? At the risk of sounding like a Daily Mail reader, unmade beds, piles of bricks and rotting flesh leave me unmoved. I saw enough of that kind of thing when I shared a flat as a student
Damien Hirst has a home here in North Devon - he who won the Turner Prize with Mother And Child Divided, a cow and a calf, each cut in half and preserved in a pair of glass-walled tanks in a formaldehyde. There is, of course, a message in that art... and it's very clever. But it's not doing it for me. It's not reaching my soul.
In any case, I'd have to move to a bigger house - or cow shed - if I wanted that on my walls.
In my sitting-room I have a very nice Victorian countryside scene. It used to hang in my later mother-in-law's house so it has sentimental value. I look at it and think about pastoral Victorian England. I think about how this painting is an idealised vision of rural life - not how it actually was. I think about how times have changed beyond recognition in the 150 years since it was painted, and how much times have changed since I was born. I think about all the people I have loved who have died. It makes me yearn for simpler times. So, even though it would make any self-respecting art critic wince, I love it.
To have any credibility in the art world I'd have to take it down. I’d be more cutting edge if nailed up the cat in its place.
Now there's an idea. Sisters, eat your hearts out, Turner Prize here I come.