Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Kate Middleton: Dusky Maiden

Paul Emsley / Portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge / 2012
It was Ben Street who described Paul Emsley's critically slaughtered portrait of Kate Middleton as having 'a soft focus, Seventies porn look', which I think is spot on. Something in the back of my head told me I had seen this painting before, but it took me a while to figure out where.

Bored at school one day we went exploring in the upper reaches of the science block. Up one of those staircases that seemingly leads to nowhere we stumbled across the sordid lair of the lab technicians, those unshaven Quasimodos that creep around the complex with grimy test tubes and Bunsen burners. It was a small penthouse grotto with a couple of battered sofas, improvised tea-making facilities and hardy pot plants struggling in the hostile atmosphere of stale sweat and putrefying John Player Specials. My eyes came to rest on the high priestess of this temple, presiding over an untidy mountain of used and abused copies of FHM and Maxim, a J.H. Lynch Tina, the Astarte Syriaca of soft-core.
J.H. Lynch / Tina / 1961
J.H. Lynch / Autumn Leaves / Before 1969
Similar to the effect of painting on black velvet, her sultry eroticism shines through the darkness and the (imagined) tobacco-stained fug on the surface of the canvas. For me, there is a horrible similarity between Emsley's Middleton and the crass ooh-la-la of Lynch's various dusky maidens. It gives me the creeps looking at it; I feel as if I am being forced against my will to be a sweaty-palmed voyeur - looking into K-Middy's eyes too long makes me want to go and wash.

Emsley, Emsley, what hast thou donst?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Eagles and Art, Connection Between

Welcome to Art Jealousy. One purpose of this blog will be to share art that I think is interesting, important, relevant, or just worth seeing. Another purpose of this blog however will be to aim to dispel examples of what I will term anti-constructive criticism (not to be confused with anti-constructive naturalism or cognitive closure, which are unrelated). By anti-constructive, I mean a) criticism that hijacks a work of art to be used in favour of the unrelated cause of the critic, and b) criticism that so distorts a work as to make it unrecognisable, as in the exaggeration of a reading or understanding of a work that is too speculative and/or unfounded on commonly accepted and established knowledge to make it a legitimate piece of criticism.

Of course nothing new would ever be achieved if we did not push the boundaries from time to time, but can we and should we trust a critic whose writing is so extreme as to alienate the work of art it discusses from the context in which it resides? 

Additionally, this blog will include articles in which I get some cathartic relief by snowploughing through what I see as artistic pomposity. The first example being this picture above. I do not know the artist, although I assume it is in Berlin somewhere by the look of the underground station.

This is purely 'statement' art, and blunt and clumsy at that. In other words, more work has gone in to the point it makes than the actual work itself. I once na├»vely queued round the block for Banksy et alii exhibition in a tunnel near Waterloo to spent about five minutes dodging idiots before emerging into the light at the other side and making straight for the nearest pub. I remember things like an Michelangelo David wearing a flak jacket, little baby security cameras peeping out of birds' nests, subtlety and delicacy of the bull in china shop variety. It's not meant to be subtle! I hear you cry. It's ham-fisted dross, I reply. 

'Art in a frame is like an eagle in a birdcage'. I do not want to turn up at a gallery to find the painting I came to see is soaring around the sky out of sight, nor do I want it to bite me. I like my art framed, thank-you. The whole statement is just so desperately weak, cringeworthy, embarrassing; everything that sums up the throwaway modern culture of the average tumblr, instagram, whatever it is. Art in a frame preserves the work, we can come back and wonder at its power, beauty and importance centuries later because someone has immortalised it in a museum. The public museum is the home of art for the masses, not street art.

Frederic, Lord Leighton / The Bath of Psyche / 1890
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