Wednesday, 13 May 2009

When is art like a dodgy kebab?

Before we get into this, I ask y'all to remember: the Intellectual Hooligan likes good art. Art can be bloody brilliant.

... Just not that often.

So far (I hope) so obvious. After all, brilliance is brilliant only relative to almost-ubiquitous dullness (although, if you're in the mood for bone-picking, you might want to debate this. I refer you to the comments concerning relativism and paninis at the foot of a previous post. Suffice to say: the Intellectual Hooligan likes his steaks rare and his adjectives relative).

So, yes, I'm content to live with the mediocrity. Because it makes the brilliance (when it reveals itself) all the more dazzling.

But I'll tell you what I'm not prepared to live with:


Most particularly:

Bullshit being torturously expelled from the mouths (or oozing from the pen-nibs, or squelching under the key-presses) of unremarkable artists, describing themselves and their work.

Bullshit of this variety tends to be fibrously heavy with abstract nouns and superfluous or tautological adjectives, indigestibly clumped together. 'Exploring a profound emptiness imbued with the memory of togetherness yet unified by a deeply permeating underlying sense of the unseen.' or some such cack. The only thing being deeply permeated here is the author's arse, by his head.

And sometimes (almost forgivably, so amusing may be the effect), we may be treated to a few scattered pellets of metaphor. This brings me neatly to the piece of artistic self-analysis that inspired today's post. I shalln't identify the artist in question, but he describes his work thus:

At times speculative, fanciful & absurd in their subjects matter, elsewhere they may represent a familiarity observed through a skewered historical gaze.

Always with a comical intent at their core and their own singular sense of internal logic, they are a feral bubble in a spirit level & a shot across the boughs of possibility.

(My italics, not his)

This is about as hilarious as KFC's luxury panini. Hahaha. 'Feral bubble'. That's like the title of some surreal B-movie horror film, passed back and forth through babelfish a few times. 

And I presume – whatever our artist might write about 'comical intent' – that his pair of malapropisms is unintentional. My mind boggles in its attempts to visualise a 'skewered historical gaze'. The closest I can get is some kind of kebab:

The Intellectual Hooligan's advice (because, yeh, everyone's listening) to artists is this: let your art do the impressing. Don't talk it up. It makes you sound like a pillock.

Almost without fail, the most impressive artists I have met have also been the most modest, the most reluctant to 'do the art thing', to talk the talk; the most humble or noncommittal when asked to outline their artistic philosophy.

Conversely, if I read a catalogue note or hear an artist describe his or her work in grandiose abstract terms, florid metaphors and indulgent personification, I do not assume they are either clever or deep.

No. I assume they are fudgily second-rate f'artists whose foremost artistic talent is probably spraypainting ...

... Spraypainting a friggin' turd.

1 comment:

Harley said...

I don't know, I think it hints at Burke's 'sublime'..

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