Thursday, 13 May 2010

I am what I am... and I don't get modern art!!

I simply just don't get modern art - I'm sorry - I just don't. Call me uncultured if you like but you could give me a big fat stack of it and I simply just would not be able to tell you what was supposedly fantastic and what was supposedly utter bollocks.

Today I have spent a considerable amount of time in art galleries in Liverpool - the Tate Modern and the Walker to be precise. Now don't go misunderstanding me - I LOVE art - I love looking at it, I can appreciate things aesthetically, I can understand and empathise with it ... but I just don't "get it".
My interest in art really does lie with the issues around it, it's meaning, it's purpose, the politics of it all - what does it stand for, what motivated the artist to produce it and most importantly why? Things need to have a reason for me to understand them and all too often I feel modern art takes the proverbial when it comes to bending reasoning to fit their art. "Oh it's just a dot on a page therefore it represents the microscopic scale of which I feel I am within the suffocating oppression of the Capitalist world in which we are imprisoned" yadayada.
Take for example one of the John Moore's prize winner pieces in the Walker. This is the equally imaginatively titled "Two Geese" by Peter Kinley (and er me):

Now I must say it is indeed a very nice picture of two geese, one facing one way the other the other ... but I just don't get it? How is that prize winning? It's so incredibly simplistic (or shall we get all technical and use the art term "naive") that a child could have produced it. It's not thought provoking, there's no real usage of effective colour harmony going on, there's seemingly no message or purpose or to be honest any real talent involved in creating that image. Oh do please forgive me if I am being so ignorant I'm actually beginning to personify the word ... I'd be more than grateful if someone could fill me in?!

I know I absolutely drive my fashion tutor Gerry potty when we go to art galleries because I spend most of my time reading the little labels attached to pieces and scribbling down the background information and details about the artists and their lives rather than actually taking time to appreciate the visual piece in front of me. I have no interest in sketching it - I'd rather take a photograph and go home to spend 17 hours on the internet and researching in the library learning all about the hows and whys.

I might not be able to tell you much about the construction or techniques or what can of chuffing paint was used on every last piece I looked at today (or even what it looked like much to be honest) but I had an absolute field day in the Walker gallery and it's exhibition (or celebration as I like to see it) of female artists. They had a beautiful little corner with a big pile of books relating to females in the art movement and I betcha all I learned so much more about the art itself from reading all that than actually standing and sketching it - that is just how I learn and we are all different.

Though Gerry will try in vain - I will never make a designer, I'll never be an artist - I cannot help it - it is in my nature to ask questions and I know I was born to be a writer. You can take me anywhere and I will utilise the space for my own needs, I will think in words, in essays, in reporting, in social reasoning, in media, in promotion - in language. That is my way of absorbing and appreciating art and I do believe I should be allowed to take that in however I want.


  1. if you genuinely want to learn about modern art (or post-modern as i find a more fitting description) then i will happily sit you down and give you some basics. this is where i specialise, the shit that no-one else gets. the thing is about that john moore prize is that a shit ton of fine art students apply for it, the judges eventually see the same topics and issues repeated. so being presented with something as simplistic as 'two geese' would be a breath of fresh air.

    i considered applying but then i realised that the last thing i want my name to be associated with is the post-modern art scene.

  2. I recently went to the walker gallery, and although i can't claim to understand modern art, the little label on the side gave enough description for me and my friends. "Two geese" represents that fact that art doesn't neeed to be complex to be memorable. And that one piece is the one that I remember most, and i'm sure it's one of the ones you remeber the most too.
    Although it isn't an artistic materpiece, it serves its purpose and shows us that we can all do art, and in some ways, we are more likely to succeed and make memorable pieces if we make things that stand out, and i'm sure that's why the judges thought it was worthy of a prize.