Wednesday, May 09, 2007

vicarious analogues
(The artist) has in more than one sense distanced himself from, to use his words, 'a moribund issue', and entered a world of open diversity and retrospective reflection, which quixotically is presented in contemporary terms as 'a mirroring'. This by no means distances him from the flow of the now, in fact this distance is a constructed bemused withdrawal, to place himself at a vantage point from which he may have a very open view of the past and its conjunction with the present. This is not so atypical of the artist today. It is, however, rare in its emphasis on the vicarious analogues that run within the works and its ironic cul de sac of reversion and abstract counterpoint. One suspects that behind the use of landscape quotation and its consequent ideal, romantic striving after transcendence, there is a more ironic exercise. He moves through a series of quotations, drawn from material almost accidentally found or browsed, and then purposely destroys their mood, their connotations put somewhere else in that axiom of an ever and 'endlessly rising canon'. The idea of 'the canon' is put under scrutiny, it becomes a staircase that has not been completed, or perhaps a chain of self-contained sections that lead to to successive blind alleys ...

This priceless load of baloney is from a catalogue for an exhibition of paintings by a Scottish artist. I've met the artist a couple of times and seen a few of his abstract paintings, but I defy anyone tell me what on earth the critic who wrote the passage above is banging on about. If I were the artist in question I would be highly embarrassed to have such unmitigated drivel associated with my work. The paintings themselves struck me as unremarkable - the sort of works which might have raised an eyebrow 75 years ago, but which now merely look derivative. The artist is, it seems, fairly successful, but the critique strikes me as an attempt to lend depth and weight to something which is essentially superficial. Doubtless such pseudo-intellectual waffling ticks all the right boxes in cultural circles, but I personally wouldn't recognise 'an ironic cul de sac of reversion and abstract counterpoint' if it jumped up and bit me on the bum.