Sunday, 21 November 2010

Artistic Licence

I like art. Always have. Even studied it at university and still occasionally dust off my easel and dig out my old paint brushes.
I like going to exhibitions too. The only problem with London is that there are so many to choose from, and so little time. I usually end up just going to shows by artists I already know and like or to my favourite annual competitions. Not that I quite understand how art can be judged so objectively.
Despite my reservations on such matters, on Friday I took my yearly pilgrimage to the Turner Prize. What I like about the Turner Prize is that it acts as a barometer of what is hot and what is not in the world of contemporary art. And, every now and then, you discover a new artist you really love.
Alas, this was not one of those years. Okay, I had a definite favourite, but I still can’t help but feel a little bit cheated. Okay, so there were a couple of artists who had applied paint to canvas and presented it in two very different ways. And, yes, the film art was very interesting, but I didn’t really have 387 minutes to watch it all, and, if I’m honest, I don’t really see how re-working an entire series of a documentary on Greek history is, well, art. The final exhibit didn’t even have a visual component to it. Interestingly enough, this was my favourite. A fact which, in itself, speaks volumes.
The problem is I think artists, like a lot of people, have started to lose a bit of perspective. For me, art is there to evoke emotion and challenge my understanding of the world. This year, only one of the artists managed to do this, end even they fell into that all too familiar trap. Yes, I am all for pushing boundaries, trying new things and moving into the unknown. But at the expense of real substance and meaning? I don’t think so.
Okay, so maybe I have missed the point. In fact, I’m sure I probably have. Its ten years since I graduated and last really looked at art with a finely tuned critical eye. Having said that, I still can’t help but think that progress and innovation has got in the way of what is really important.
So, if you happen to be wandering along Millbank and have a spare £8 in your pocket (yes, really!), take a look. And let me know what you think. Feel free to educate me. Like I say, I have an open mind about these things. However, I think you will see what I mean.

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