Before attempting to strangle his former wife Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi had subjected us to his first session of public torture with his infamous New Orden/New British Art Part I. In that occasion, this blogger expressed his frustration after witnessing the overwhelming lack of quality that that show conveyed while highlighting what, according to me, is the biggest problem that the British system faces which is that of artistic education. My point, at the time, was that the most prestigious educational institutions have been hijacked by ‘ready made’ proto-conceptualist shit. Let me unpack this.
In New Orden Part II, Saatchi wants to show us the pictorial side of his emerging talent collection. The result is disastrous. Let’s start with Dominic Beattie. His work is composed of collages in ink, paper, tape, aluminium on board creating visual concoctions that refer to op art, Arte Povera and abstraction (sic), in general. The result, however, is so superficial that one does not know what this is supposed to mean. What I find shocking is the way curator Ben Street refers to this pile of crap. In his own words: ‘Allowing the material’s eccentric qualities (be it packing tape, stickers, string or marker ink) to determine the evolution of the work, Beattie is indebted to Italian Arte Povera of the 1950 and 60s with its frank use of basic, often perishable materials…Despite its undisguised wonkiness, its zipping visual energy, shuttling the eye across its surface in constant motion, become a wholehearted homage to early modernism. Half-closed your eyes, and you are there’. I rest my case. The curator is actually asking us to ‘half close our eyes to enjoy this’. If the curator is asking us to see ‘less’ of it, I have not much more to say about this artist.
Sarah Dwyer’s big canvases are an insult to the viewer. She tries to create formations that metamorphosize in the performance of viewing in that post-cubistic expressionistic way that Francis Bacon managed to master. The result here is a true car crash. According to Ben Street: ‘tumbling ectoplasmic forms become fragments of a body, or parts of an animal or plant, transforming themselves just before the viewer is granted purchase. You recognise it until you suddenly don’t.’ Well, I wonder why. Actually, I can tell you why. Because this is pointlessly bad painting, that’s why.
Nick Evans’ take on the humanist tradition of Henry Moore is an insult to that tradition and to us. His works are bulbous forms in fibre reinforced p;laster, placed on furniture-like wooden supports with colourful patterned surfaces. Their whiteness refers to the tradition of classical and modernist sculpture but the form is so pointless and badly finished that it can only function as a visual oxymoron which meaning vanishes two minutes after looking at it. Allegedly, the artist repeatedly uses the same mould and this is supposed to be an investigation on the limits of originality. Really? Are we having this conversation? What is the real point of this? That sculptures can be copied? That everything has been done? If that is the point, it is not good enough.
Tom Gidley’s work, allegedly and according to Street, ‘recasts the gallery space as crime scene, obliging the viewer to unpick and find meaning in his startling combination of two and three dimensional objects’ Can anyone tell me how a piece of shapeless glazed ceramic on a pretentious plinth placed in front of two half defaced paintings might indicate a ‘crime scene’. This artist asks far too much from the viewer and everything potentially good in his work is taken away but that overload of unnecessary meaning and information.
Kate Hawkins also was amongst the chosen emerging artists selected for this year’s New Bloomberg Contemporaries at the ICA in London. She is one of the most stupid and irrelevant artists I have ever seen. I struggle to understand the reasons for such inclusion. George Little’s hommages to Henri Mattisse are an insult to his legacy and fall into stupid wall paper ornamentation. Oliver Osborne’s is a waste of space from a literal and a metaphorical point of view. ‘Eyes (Tom Hanks Painting) features a coloured chessboard layered with ghostly whites, thus becoming flattened. But this image is suddenly interrupted with a collage of the familiar eyes of Tom Hanks. This abstraction (it has literally been removed from its original source, a publicity photograph) jars with the painting’s associative seriousness. The painting is a kind of quotation, a visual strategy that is so worn out by now it is practically colourless’, says Street. Associative seriousness? Kind of quotation? Visual strategy? To make it even more clear, the viewer faces a badly painted surface with a postcard and that is supposed to convey ‘difference’. What the hell?
Mr.Saatchi, do yourself a favour and fire Ben Street because he is clearly an idiot. If you actually want to help British Art, pile up all this shit and make a bonfire. That will have more of a concept that all this pointless junk. PS: Have a look at the artists’ pics. Don’t they look as stupid as they works? Just a thought.