Thursday, 26 December 2013

Sinners 2013

Because it's always more fun to criticise than praise, right? How not to do it... 


Man Ray at National Portrait Gallery 
Now, this was a beautiful exhibition, no question - but like every temporary show at the NPG, they squashed it into this tiny, absurdly hot and crowded space at the back. These pictures are small too, so they were surrounded by a million pushy posh old ladies all shoving you with their elbows. Raargh! Exhibition rage!

This was a victim of its own success. A while ago I wrote about how the Print room at the British Museum never advertised its exhibitions and was underappreciated. They clearly were listening to me as they decided to put on a huge crowd-pulling people-pleasing show about SEX and pay for advertising all over the tube network. There were queues out the door, and timed tickets.

Let's not mess about here, this show was p*rn, though beautifully executed, erotic artistic Japanese p*rn. (As my friend said, it's kind of a relief when you see one without cocks.)The room was packed and despite the English reserve, yes yes we're all grownups, it was all a bit uncomfortable. I wish I could have got to see it during the week without the crowds.

Mexico at the Royal Academy
The RA has mostly been great this year - this wasn't bad, but strangely didn't feature many Mexican artists, more artists who had visited Mexico. Em and I kept bursting into giggles as the captions bizarrely kept repeating about each artist "He never returned to Mexico."

A Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s to Now

This was an ICA "off-site" exhibition at the Old Selfridges Hotel. Oh my god. Take a fascinating, explosive, imaginative period in pop culture, invite all the major players to take part - squash all this imagination and creativity into 100 boring little glass boxes. Excuse me, vitrines. What a wasted opportunity.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries
I saved the best worst til last!  Holy smoke! This is what people think of when they disdain contemporary art.   It was at the ICA and free, we went in a little group from college. It is a competition for art school graduates (cue much debate about why only art school graduates are legit in the eyes of the art world) and honestly, if this is the best they've got...  46 out of thousands of entries... Lacklustre painting, half-arsed sculpture, lame installations, self-indulgent films. Nothing interesting, nothing engaging, nothing well made.

 (I don't want to pick on anyone in particular, but just to give you a sample, that painting was a detail of a Simpsons cartoon painted straight on the wall with condiments like mustard. Worth  £500 grand of anyone's money, surely.)

It would have been depressing except we made up a game where we had bets on which college the artist graduated from (Goldsmiths...? RCA...? Chelsea...? St Martins...? the Slade...? There is an absolutely outrageous bias towards London art schools -  We whooped when Leeds Uni made a surprise last minute entry.)

Poor. Very poor. Poorer than poor. But sort of hopeful and encouraging for us, too.


  1. Of course, it's the response of you and your friends to the ICA show that formed the real work of art. There's more beauty in a student's cynical whoop than in 90% of proper pictures.

  2. Tim, great. We make art by making skeptical noises in art galleries- excellent.