10 years pricking the art voodoo doll 2005-2015

Month: July 2007

How I stopped painting 2

In response to Leonard’s comment on part 1…


My 1980’s paintings abandoned in a garage…


Dear Mr. Bullock

I probably over-egged the crticism of Goldsmiths per se. ( suits wider arguments) as it coincided with a very difficult time in my personal life. I was living in a legalised squat on North Circular London and had lost my studio ( first interview with Goldsmiths was there) so when second interview had to take place in front room of a deserted squat I using as studio it already counted against me. I had no money for rent let alone materials and had split up from a messy relationship…..most people read my paintings of that time as depressive (Horrible Heads Paintings Flash slideshow)…all in all not my best time.I resented then and now the witch-hunt against Fuller from people who nowhere near his ability. When somebody who famous for sexist record covers (Roxy Music) starts lecturing me about fascism I bristle.

It took me twenty years to even get in a financial position where I could actually rent a studio again ( here in Nottingham) and when I did teaching preparation destroyed time to paint. As I think de Kooning said the trouble with poverty is it takes up all your time. It is only because of my current partner’s love and support that I even close to resuming seriously.Now finally I have a glimpse of some space and time and a postgrad course through Derby University to look forward to. Since I attended college an M.A. has become the equivalent of a B.A. in people’s attitudes despite some wearers of that title being less able than they think.Also I have started to find a group of excellent younger painters here who despite the system are keeping the flag flying. I have been virulent in damnation of certain aspects of the art world in those 20 years both from personal angle and because I genuinely appalled at how de-skilled the art schools have become. Even these colleges are now realising that something has gone wrong. But life rooms, recipe technical support and print rooms have all been jettisoned for digital cheapness and replacing them is costly.

Before I go off on another rant about education which better placed elsewhere I will return to my development (or lack there of).

Having lost studio and house in London I returned to Oxford and my parents house in 1989 and stayed there until 1992. In that time I took to the hills..literally and completed a large sequence ( every fine day that summer) by strapping a drawing board to the back of a white bycycle and heading off to draw the chalk hills. This sequence I still have and is my most sustained and complete sequence of drawings. see some of them here…


Call me reactionary then I become an Impressionist:-) Actually I was heavily influenced by Canadian Group of Seven…..many of whom were Brits fleeing WWW1 and Sheffield Ruskin trained…all connects! Also Paul Nash who drew same hills…
I showed them at Rocket Press (now Gallery London) and after blazing row with gallery owner who taught me a valuable lesson in how caring and sharing such people are…..(I ended up painting his walls to repay debts to him!) I ran off with a lovely Spanish lady to Edinburgh where the only art I managed outwith crap temp jobs in banks were some etchings. Then that too ended …I awoke from a daze 7 years later with some music, order some poetry but no art and once again back in my parents and yet again no house, viagra no partner…c’est la vie………it has taken last 7 years to put that right again! Hopefully…

Just visited your artist-guide pages and fascinated by the Edinburgh connection…I massive fan of William Johnstone.

for readers of blog see Leonard’s work at

The Art of Greed


Following an excellent Clive James article on Hirst’s Skull on BBC website I was moved to post a short reply…I elaborate a little more here..

I wrote then..

Cracking riposte Mr. James. Mr Hirst is the Barnum of our age and whilst not being a bad lad and kind to his mum he does produce some silly artworks. Even sillier is the stage-managed way he hoovers up press via his agent. Fair play in the kingdom of the skull the one-studded man is a chav. My friendly art dog has seen through the media fog for many a day mainly because being a dog he cannot converse with Mr Hirst in case he rips him in two and drops him in a tank. Unfair treatment of a critic but that’s the way life is these days. Would it be unwise if Moogee suggested that if current proportion of illegal diamonds on market as high as suggested then most of the sparklers on this Pearly King’s bonce are dodgy anyway?

I enlarge now…

Having re-read an sovaldi ,2115567,00.html” title=”Barnum”>Observer interview with Mr.Hirst’s ‘agent come bookie’ Frank Dunphy  I have to eat my words. As a double act Mr. James’s comments on Morecambe and Wise and celebrity come much closer to the truth than he imagines. Mr Dunphy ex-bookie, Irish scallywag and theatrical agent to several dwarves, a python lady , Harry Worth( true talent) and The Nitwits( don’t ask but they cleaned up in Vegas apparently) is the real Barnum here. Fraud is the key. It is no longer anything remotely to do with art or even the trailing in his jetstream Jay (Etonian) Jopling who probably looked sadder than Mr. Cameron after a by-election when he realised said skull cost more to make (let alone sell) than his entire ‘White Cube’ gallery. How appropriate that it is the name of the gallery that signifies all that wrong with contemporary art culture. A white space devoid of feeling and intrinsic merit that reflects back contemporary obsessions with the vacuous, the fleeting and the vain. To that degree Hirst has produced an object of its time but that time as Warhol predicted used to be 15 mins..it substantially less …ask the Big Brother clone lapdancing for footballers how long she expected to  ‘cut her teeth’ on the lush pile carpets of instant glamour before returning to the barmaid role…

One White Cube is another mans Sugar Lump. Publicity for Jopling to keep him in his loft conversion or is it stockbroker manse? Publicity for dull-witted hacks on a hundred lifestyle mags to fill column inches instead of having to either read, investigate or think. Disposable culture bred on internet searches and generic theme writing born of laziness and bad teaching. The roots of our present malaise stretch far back into the teenage bedrooms and back of class Hello and GQ obsessed teenagers who have been coached in lifestyle living instead of values, grammar or numeracy.

The path to suburban Ikeadom is laced with diamond skulls, footballers wives and cocaine highs but nothing that lasts longer than a corporate blowjob or a pot noodle. Greed is all and pot noodle culture is what we feed our young from the Tate Modern to the inner-city community project where getting a five -second rap from a disgruntled teenager and wrapping it in special effects so that the published ‘outcomes’ satisfy some notion of ‘substance’ for the funding body is all.

White breadism…..not something wholesome or genuinely meaningful is frowned on – fast food culture breeds fast food artists.

 Shit in…shit out.

Abusing Art

The Museum of Modern Art, buy viagra Oxford, search England  is to show a 100 paintings by Saatchi ’star’ Stella Vine. This is my response to her interview in the U.K. broadsheet Observer newspaper where she was afforded two pages of coverage.


Spot the real artist…

I once saw a couple of Vine’s paintings in a Stuckist show in the East End of London apparently the same one where Don Saatchi ‘discovered’ her. The Observer feature reproduced a family painting in its feature and mentioned that portraits of the Ipswich prostitutes would also be in the show. Sadly more of the reporter’s questions concentrated on Ms. Vine’s abusive or not-abusive past ( a la Emin) than on the work…indeed one felt for the interviewee as almost all comment on the formal structure of her work was negated in pursuit of ‘good copy’. Trying to separate a fairly ordinary painter from the hype is difficult but it increasingly appears that Saatchi has given this particular ‘Fair Lady’ the Rex Harrison makeover. My objection is that because of his power he can do this to virtually any artist (maybe this was an artworld insiders bet?) and the laughable ‘art-world’ we now left with post Saatchi falls into place behind like a herd of lapdogs to praise her ‘ability’…

The Museum of Modern Art Oxford was one of the best new galleries in the country in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s showing a range of work..Rodchencko, sale Mayakovsky, New French Painting that as a young art student I felt priviliged to attend. That standards have slipped this far that its latest director opts for a sensational yet threadbare parade of a troubled individuals amateurism is beyond a joke. Whatever Stella Vine is …media personality, affable ex-stripper, troubled individual the one thing any fairly art-educated person can say is she is not a painter. So why is an institution like MOMA doing this?

Are they so impressed by her ability they could not resist her charms? No like any Blairite art institution it has scrabbled along with dwindling funding over the last two decades and has learnt to ‘sell itself’ for the greater good. A coffee bar was the first ‘improvement’ the new director made and as a son of a government official of such standing he was made an Oxford University College Dean it was no surprise that his improvements were waved through unopposed. Oxford is still a city controlled by a mediaeval and arrogant University system.

So when an opportunity to raise column inches ( note Observer already) who could resist Ms. Vine. Thus a cash starved and publicity-seeking art organisation chases bankrupt art simply because images of Princess Diana and Pete Doherty might 1) draw in public and 2) mention of Saatchi will ring the publicity bells….which it already has.

To attack this art as neglible, badly-painted sensationalist drivel will bring also the wrath of should have known better post-feminist critics who shamefully will do anything for a quick buck and a place in limelight. That Germaine Greer even thinks she can put her name to this show’s catalogue shows that not only the artworld is living on a morally bankrupt plateau we have previously only imagined. I do not care if I am labelled a ‘anti-feminist’ for pointing out their shortcomings for the simple reason that I am not and never will be but I am simply pointing out crap art when I see it and the hordes of univerity hack-feminists dribbling over Tracy Emin will probably produce yet more academic tomes about the ‘importance’ of this latest ‘she-warrior’ for the arts. It is complete rubbish. The best female artists are still around they are simply not a party to the Saatchi circus.

If one wants a chilling vision of just how vile the new Saatchi driven artworld is then spend a few minutes watching the flood of inane, amateurish and frankly sexist images that flood his gateway to the stars i.e. Sattchi online. Born of a belief in ‘access for all’ it is like a X Factor for bad art. Vote for me, look at me, give me a show the poor fools who subscribe seem to be saying..gimme gimme gimme ….is this present generations mantra and they are being suckered in the same way Barnum spewed out his mantras..you can fool some of the people all of the time.

There is nothing ‘good’ about any of this. It cheapens the art world – it gives young students a prostitution mantra to do anything to be noticed…’wow factor’ the colleges now inculcate any budding artist with from day one of their foundation courses. Don’t bother learning to paint or draw you too can be a Stella Vine just make it newsworthy…prostitutes, murderers, rapists..then tell people it post-feminist investigation….bollocks.

It is pathetic both as an intellectual idea and as actual art. All you need as a female artist is to confront the dragons of the patriarchy and you too can be Saint Joan of Art, or Stella or Tracy. Meanwhile the power remains clenched firmly in the abusers fist. After Saatchi a host of charlatan dealers swarmed around the disorientated Ms.Vine and made cheap deals like a pack of internet groomers. Meaning is lost in this kind of vacuous society. Art values are destroyed. Who is top of the heap is determined by people who know nothing about the intrinsic values of art but only commerce and making insider bets to increase their standing. How many of those dealers were women one wonders…?

As art the show at MOMA will be amongst the very worst that poor institution has displayed in its history. It is perhaps the final nail in a downward slide in the art-world in general that has sold itself for a handful of silver. Our magazines, our websites, our galleries are tainted and we are the poorer….cheap trash is IN buddy!! so dumb down and wallow in the mire…capitalism stuffs the revolutionaries mouths with silver before the corpses are cold…

Does this matter?Yes, a country and a society that sells itself like a cheap stripper is demeaned. I visited Valencia in Spain last week and the difference in overall attitude, funding, and most importantly erudite discussion of art was so marked as to be shocking.
The Spanish system has in inate understanding of the intrinsic merit of artists and what they produce. It does not abuse its artists or treat them like call girls and strippers (male or female). The sexist agenda at work here is strengthened by tawdry and sensationalist shows like this. Women are once again the victims of a system that is patrimonial. I did not see a single female artist accorded such treatment in Spain.

I despise our present greedy, neurotic, ill-educated, sexist and arrogant yet impoverished system. It is time true values were once again brought back to be top of the agenda. Call me rightist etc etc but when the BFI is collapsing and a commentator in the same paper can lament the fact that after a 10 fold increase in funding the film industry is collapsing perhaps it time to point out that despite 6 billion in arts funding we have more artists than ever, more galleries than ever, more publicity than ever…and guess what… 90% of it is all shite.

p.s. In Valencia I saw a show of photographs of Frida Khalo……she was strong, talented and a beacon of light throughout her life right to her death-bed….Vine and Emin are nowhere near…Khalo did not need a Saatchi to become famous and she would probably have spat in his face…if only people like that were feted..but Saatchi likes to pick artists that cannot fight back…

The art world is a disaster

A third additional element in this sorry story has to do with the decoupling of art-world practice from the practice of art. Look at the objects on view in “Wrestle”: almost none has anything to do with art as traditionally understood: mastery of a craft in order to make objects that gratify and ennoble those who see them. On the contrary, cialis the art world has wholeheartedly embraced art as an exercise in political sermonizing and anti-humanistic persiflage, viagra which has assured the increasing trivialization of the practice of art. For those who cherish art as an ally to civilization, the disaster that is today’s art world is nothing less than a tragedy. But this, too, will pass. Sooner or later, even the Leon Botsteins and Marieluise Hessels of the world will realize that the character in Bruce Nauman’s “Good Boy, Bad Boy” was right: “this is boring.” 

Roger Kimball

This the coda to an admirable piece in the New Criterion I suggest you read the rest of it at